Influence (and Nuttall) appointed by Emirates Team New Zealand
By Callum Murray
Influence Sports & Media, the UK-based international sports agency, has been appointed by sailing’s Emirates Team New Zealand as the exclusive commercial agency for its defence of the America’s Cup, the sport’s blue-riband event, in 2021.
Influence is led by Alistair Watkins, its founder and managing director, who will be assisted by Steve Nuttall, the pay-television sport pioneer who worked for the UK’s Sky and was subsequently a senior director at YouTube, and Ekrem Sami, formerly chief executive at Formula 1’s McLaren Marketing.
The agency, which is based in London, said that it will “work closely with Emirates Team New Zealand and its partners, the Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa Challenge, and Prada, the Presenting Sponsor of the 36th America’s Cup. The agency will provide commercial services including partner sales, partner management, media rights and implementation for the 36th America’s Cup Defence.”
Nuttall, who joins the team in his capacity as a sports and media industry consultant, told Sportcal: “We’ve been appointed by [Team NZ chief] Grant Dalton to put together a commercial programme and think about how to make the 2021 America’s Cup a world-class event, with coverage on both large and small screens. At the moment everyone’s talking about augmented reality, but we need to think ahead to what’s coming. Surely the America’s Cup will be at the forefront of all that.”
Nuttall was introduced to Influence at Sky when it was working with the Team Sky cycling team, and subsequently renewed the relationship at YouTube, when Influence was handling the Mercedes Formula 1 team's media work.
He said: “We’re currently about half a dozen people but will grow. It’s very early days, but the boat has been announced, which looks amazing. It’s a foiling monohull [this year’s event featured foiling catamarans]. The idea is to return to the classic appeal of monohulls, but it’s also an opportunity to make it even more exciting than catamarans. It’s more of a return to a classic spectacle, but it’s still a big boat and faster than catamarans.”
Watkins said: “We are excited to be supporting Grant Dalton and the Defender of the America’s Cup for the next campaign. The America’s Cup is a truly unique sporting property and given the agency’s commercial knowledge and experience of working with global rights holders and luxury brands, we look forward to providing our expertise and playing a key role in ensuring the next America’s Cup is the best yet.”
Grant Dalton, chief executive of Emirates Team New Zealand and the 36th America’s Cup, said: “I have known Alistair for several years and I’m extremely pleased to be working with the team at Influence Sports & Media to develop the commercial aspects of the America’s Cup Defence. It is going to be a busy and enjoyable few years putting in place the key elements of the 36th America’s Cup – we are confident that all our stakeholders including our sailing and sports fans will love what is coming.”
Earlier this week it emerged that there are divisions over the location of the America’s Cup base. While Emirates Team New Zealand wants to get its NZ$190-million ($130-million) Halsey Wharf extension approved in the Wynyard Quarter, Auckland mayor Phil Goff favours a cheaper NZ$139-million option of setting up bases across three wharves around Wynyard Quarter.
Emirates Team New Zealand, which beat Oracle Team USA 7-1 in Bermuda in June, has already warned that the 2021 edition could be staged in Italy (Luna Rossa’s home country) if agreement cannot be reached on the location and specifics of the base.
For more of Nuttall’s views on how technology is changing the way sport is consumed, read this exclusive interview with him on Sportcal Insight.