Rahul Sachitanand
Nov 17, 2020

OMG sends sports unit Fuse onto the pitch in Apac

Fuse's former strategy director, Jonathan Drakes, will helm the sports and entertainment practice in the region, with Tuborg signed up as first client; the agency is looking for a country lead in India

Jonathan Drakes will head Fuse, OMG's sports and entertainment practice, in APAC. (OMG)
Jonathan Drakes will head Fuse, OMG's sports and entertainment practice, in APAC. (OMG)

Omnicom Media Group (OMG) has expanded Fuse, its sport and entertainment practice, across Asia-Pacific. Headquartered in Singapore, the Fuse team will serve clients in the region across sport, esports and music.

In APAC, the service will be led by Jonathan Drakes, who helped grow Fuse’s international business out of the UK as its strategy director. He will be based in Singapore and will report to Tony Harradine, CEO of OMG APAC and Louise Johnson, CEO of Fuse.

Fuse in APAC will build on the established Fuse network in the UK and across EMEA, where clients include PepsiCo, Nissan, HSBC, Google and Vodafone. The company says this clients in both regions will benefit from the scale and specialist local expertise of a globally integrated practice.

Launched amidst a pandemic that has put virtually all events on hold, the flag-off for Fuse in Asia was delayed, Drakes told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "We used the time to better understand the industry that was fast-changing," he adds. "Asia is an important part of our global ambitions." Fuse has also appointed a country lead in China, Susan Suo, and is actively recruiting one in India. 

Fuse in Asia will work closely with OMG's agencies as well as strike out on its own for business. According to Drakes, the key driver for Fuse here is to ensure sports and entertainment marketing is "more digital, countable and performance-driven". Sports and entertainment efforts should be thought of as an integrated part of an overall media solution rather than as a standalone offering, he added.  

In Asia, the way Fuse will look at its business will be different from operations in Europe and North America. For one, a lot of international brands and sports bodies (FIFA, IOC, NBA and the like) aim to push into markets such as China and South Korea, where consumers are familiar with sports. Fuse will work with the wider OMG network to tap these opportunities. 

However, Drakes contends there are opportunities to work with Asian brands and scale up their sports-marketing initiatives. In addition, Fuse will also work in areas such as esports where China and southeast Asia have taken the lead globally. In terms of competitors for Fuse, Drakes said the unit goes up against management consultancies, other networks and traditional sports marketers. 

There is currently a gap between the scale and scope of digital opportunities offered by rights-holders and the proportion of overall media investment brands are putting towards digital campaigns, reckons Drakes. The industry is acutely aware of this, and the transformation has been catalysed by the pandemic. "In APAC we are exceptionally well placed to help our clients maximise their platforms digitally through our integration with OMG, and globally we are actively supporting the efforts of major sports organisations to evolve their offering," he said.   

Johnson added, “The global sport and entertainment rights and media market is evolving at a phenomenal rate, driven by expanding fan bases and new digital media platforms. This presents fantastic opportunity across APAC and EMEA for agencies that can quickly adapt, at scale."

Fuse APAC's founding client is Tuborg (Carlsberg Group), which has a five-year relationship with the agency. During this time Fuse helped create and grow ‘Tuborg Open’, a music platform that has seen the beer brand collaborate with international artists such as Major Lazer, Chainsmokers, Badshah, Li Yuchun and Z.Tao. 

Said Harradine, “Our new model for Fuse will enable us to maximise the effectiveness of our clients’ sponsorships by constructing integrated digital solutions that deliver tangible business return on quicker timescales for brands across the group."

(This article first appeared on CampaignAsia.com)

Campaign India

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