After working in law before joining IMG and branching out on his own to represent TV and radio hosts, manager Titus Day and his 6 Degrees Group are launching a specialist sports management division.
Day told Mediaweek he has managed sports people before, swimmer Stephanie Rice and athlete John Steffensen when they were both still competing, but he is now developing a specially staffed sports division.
“We have hired a sports marketing specialist called Rhys Dal Cin who was the head of marketing at Reebok for Australia and the Pacific region. He will run 6 Degrees Sport.”
The agency has started with a bang representing three athletes at the top of their respective fields – Australia’s #1 Ironman champion Matt Poole, Australia’s #1 female skateboarder Poppy Starr and Australia’s #1 UFC fighter Rob Whittaker.
6 Degrees Sport also manages rugby league legend Brett Kimmorley who is on air at ESPN, Seven and Fox Sports, and one of its regular clients Jim Wilson is a sports specialist for Seven.
Day admits they are fortunate to have a roster of three high level athletes to launch the new division. “We have some people who are able to make an impact immediately, which will enable us to capitalise on opportunities for them immediately. We have already had quite a bit of success in the media deals and endorsements we are signing them up for.
“The plan is to focus on surfing and extreme sports and then maybe branch into other areas like tennis. We are unlikely to move into rugby league or AFL for the time being.”
At Reebok, Dal Cin was responsible for some of the celebrity signings and steered brand and marketing initiatives. “He thoroughly understands endorsements and branding. He brings with him large corporate strategy experience after working at a very high level for a global brand.”
The sports division will offer complete management of careers for sports people still competing, not just management of opportunities away from the fields they compete in. “For example, with Rob Whittaker we are negotiating his UFC contract when it comes up. We are also working with his team on each of his fights. With Poppy we negotiate with the competition organisers to ensure she is competing at the biggest events and then we organise the logistics involved in competing.”
Day said that when working with established sports stars they come with a team already built around them. “It’s not like we need to find them a trainer or coaches. When we take on a new client we work with their existing team to make sure we are presenting them with opportunities and making life easier for them.”
At the moment 6 Degrees Sport has the best sportsperson in three sports it represents. “The ideal is to have the best person in each discipline. In other sports we take on, the ideal would be to have the #1 person. Once the new division can fund itself, we can then bring on more staff and look at signing other stars, either near the top of the sport or perhaps and up-and-coming star. You need that first person to attract others. One of the first things anybody asks when we sign them is, ‘Am I always going to be a priority?’ We need to be very sensitive to that and ideally focus on the best in each category.”
Grant Denyer update
In addition to launching a sports special division, Day continues to manage a stable of stars that includes Guy Sebastian, James Mathison, Sophie Monk and others. He also looks after Grant Denyer, who was hospitalised after a car crash during a rally race last weekend.
“He is lucky to be alive,” Day told Mediaweek two days after the accident. He was expected out of hospital midweek after suffering a couple of broken bones and severe bruising. Denyer was behind the wheel of the rally car, which hit a tree at high speed. It seems he will miss at least a week’s filming of TEN’s Wheel Of Fortune.
Sports stars and social
Day said the world of social media changed things drastically for sports stars for a period of time. But he noted the tide had now turned. “Initially digital agencies sprung up everywhere pitching for digital content from influencers of all sorts. They were signing lots of people and doing group deals. There are still digital agencies, but they are more refined around content as opposed to social posts.
“We had a policy I have stuck with since the beginning that none of our clients does any separate social posts for contra or cash.” Day said they will negotiate bigger longer-term endorsement deals which come with a minimum fee. “We don’t have rate cards or fees for single posts on social media.
“Initially a lot of our clients reacted against that and most of them agreed. It has been to their benefit in the long run.”
Day mentioned Jules Sebastian as an example who has been in high demand after building her brand as a stylist, fashion and lifestyle commentator. “She gets asked daily for social media posts because of her profile. If Jules had agreed she would have watered down her brand, like a lot of other people in a similar position did. Now she is getting deals all the time, but high level deals because of her integrity and because she only takes on a brand if she likes it.”
Sebastian, wife of singer Guy Sebastian, who is also represented by 6 Degrees, will ask for a sample of a product if she is asked to endorse it. If she likes it she will then post on social media without payment.
“Her brand deals are getting bigger and bigger and there is a real value on her now. That has worked across the board too for all of our clients.” He noted that chasing social media endorsements has worked for other people, but he doesn’t feel it is best for his stable.
Global sporting circuit
The international opportunities for athletes depend on the sport they are involved in. “With Matt Poole as Australia’s best Ironman he competes mostly here because Australia has the premier Ironman competition in the world. He does compete in overseas triathlons though and he does adventure trips for media partners.
“With Poppy, however, there are two major skate tournaments in Australia and the rest are global. She is travelling much of the time attending those.
“Rob Whittaker also spends much of his time here. After he finds out when his next fight is he will go into an intensive training camp. Most big UFC fights are in Las Vegas and his next fight is Vegas on April 15.”
“If Whittaker wins that next fight he is possibly just one fight away from a World Champion title fight.”
The agency is already dealing with massive interest in Whittaker, which will increase every time he wins a fight and climbs the UFC ladder globally.