Longtime media executives David Levy and Chris Weil are launching a new marketing agency alongside Horizon Media, which aims to capitalize on the change they’re already seeing in sports advertising.
Horizon Sports & Experiences (HS&E) plans to focus on marketing beyond TV ads and in-stadium signage, which Levy referred to as “table stakes.” Instead, it will seek to create opportunities around new events, intellectual property creation, and experiential marketing – both in the physical world and in the Metaverse.
Levy, former president of Turner Broadcasting, and Weil, chairman of Momentum Worldwide, will serve as co-CEOs and equity partners alongside Horizon Media.
“These aren’t going to be standard 30-second TV spots,” Levy said in an interview. “And the timing couldn’t be better. Private equity firms are investing heavily in sports franchises, new leagues are being formed and NIL rights are here. This space is growing so fast and they’re going to need companies like us.”
The group will not start from scratch. It takes over parts of the Horizon portfolio, including more than 30 employees and an existing customer base. Horizon’s newly formed Metaverse consulting firm, Chapter & Verse, will be part of the HS&E business — as will Horizon’s lifestyle agency, Scout Sports and Entertainment. Michael Neuman, who leads Scout, will become executive vice president at HS&E.
The agency’s goal is to combine the expertise of its three backers: Levy in content creation and sales, Weil in experiential marketing, and Bill Koenigsberg, CEO/Founder of Horizon, in brand building. Giving an example of things HS&E could pursue, Levy mentioned The Match, the golf franchise he helped create at Turner. The Match launched 2018 with brand new intellectual property, featuring media partners, corporate sponsors and buy-in from the sport’s biggest stars. Its seventh iteration will take place next month.
Levy, who founded sports consulting and investment firm Back Nine Ventures, spent about three decades at Turner parent Time Warner, where he oversaw the company’s portfolio of networking, ad sales and distribution. He also ran Turner Sports from 2003 until his retirement in 2019. He is currently Chairman of Genius Sports (NYSE:GENI) and will continue in that role.
Weil served as Chairman and CEO of Momentum for two decades until his recent departure. While in that role, the agency grew from two offices to 30 locations worldwide, eventually managing more than $5 billion in sponsorship assets. Weil said in a statement that the industry needs an agency that can combine traditional marketing with new opportunities in Web3, a catch-all for the decentralized future of the internet, including blockchain technology.
“With fundamental shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors that continue to drive the evolution of brand experiences — both physical and digital — I believe Web3 will be the ‘experience web,'” Weil said. “So we’re creating a company that will be at the forefront of monetizing Web3 in this mixed physical-digital world.”
The launch of HS&E fits perfectly with Horizon’s recent expansion. In recent months, the company formed a new consultancy called Green Thread and acquired a majority stake in digital experience agency First Tube Media, which will work closely with HS&E.