Industry Insider: Action Sports Execs

By McKelvey, Steve | Sport Marketing Quarterly, December 2012 | Go to article overview
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Industry Insider: Action Sports Execs

McKelvey, Steve, Sport Marketing Quarterly

Interviews conducted by Steve McKelvey, an associate professor and graduate program director in the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and vice president for industry relations for the Sport Marketing Association.

Over the past decade, few individuals have had a greater impact and influence on the action sports industry than Wade Martin and Bill Carter.

Martin is the President and CEO of Alli Sports, a global entertainment business that encompasses national and international action sports tours and events, multimedia production and distribution, and a consumer facing lifestyle brand. In 2011, Alli was acquired by NBC and Comcast as a subsidiary of the NBC Sports Group. Martin was named to SportsBusiness Journal's Forty Under 40 list in 2005 and Brandweek's 2006 Marketers of the Next Generation.

Martin joined NBC Sports in the fall of 2003 as general manager of Action Sports. He spearheaded the creation and development of the Dew Tour, which launched in 2005 as the first season-long professional tour for actions sports. By 2007, Martin had been promoted to President and the Dew Tour was recognized as the most successful series in action sports, boasting the largest media commitment, largest total viewership and on-site attendance, and a blue-chip roster of partners including Mountain Dew, Toyota, Sony PlayStation, and Nike. That same year, the company announced its first major expansion initiative with the creation of the Winter Dew Tour. In 2008, that expansion continued with Martin leading the formation of Alli, the Alliance of Actions Sports, as the new umbrella brand and company. Under Alli, Martin developed and negotiated partnerships with leading properties in new sport verticals, created a media arm (Alli TV and, and opened the Carlsbad, California, office to oversee the creative, editorial, and consumer products group and e-commerce business, the Alli Shop. In total, Alli manages four properties and more than 61 events. Martin earned his MS in sport management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1996.

Since 1995, Bill Carter has developed Fuse into the country's leading action sports and youth culture marketing firm. Over the past two years, the Vermontbased Fuse agency has been recognized with numerous awards, including Event Marketing magazine's Grand Ex Award for the year's top campaign; Promo magazine's Top 100 promotional agencies; the Bulldog Award recognizing outstanding Public Relations; a Sports Emmy nomination for Outstanding Broadband; and Outside Magazine's 50 Best Places to Work. In 2001, Bill became the first action sports marketer to be honored as a recipient of SportsBusiness Journal's Forty Under 40 Award. For more than a decade, he has counseled many of the most important corporate sponsors, media, athletes, and properties in action sports including strategy for Mountain Dew's action sports marketing platform since 1996; on-site activation for more than 30 Summer and Winter X Games sponsors; Public Relations for the Association of Surfing Professionals; program development and implementation for Skateboarder magazine, FOX, Quiksilver, Burton, and Orag; and product launch strategies for Gatorade and Converse as they entered action sports for the first time in their storied histories. Carter is a graduate of Gettysburg College (creative writing) and Michigan State University (sports management).

SMQ: A recent SportsBusiness Journal article analyzing the state of the action sports industry reported that, over the past few years, TV ratings have slightly decreased and attendance is leveling off. Assuming this is the case, what do you view as the biggest challenges facing the action sports industry?

Martin: We are not concerned with the leveling offin viewership or attendance as so many aspects of the sports and market continue to grow. The core fan and participant base in action sports is strong and growing.

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