Interview: Jeff Ehrenkranz on the post-pandemic opportunities for agencies

14 Jan 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

As Allied Sport launches its international business, Sport Industry Group chatted to Jeff Ehrenkranz - who will lead the venture - about the new offering in the industry, the future of agency work, and his excitement for a new venture.

Having spent 25 years with Octagon Worldwide, Ehrenkranz joins Allied Sports as it expands its North American roots to grow internationally.

Ehrenkranz served as President of Octagon’s International Marketing business, and is credited with transforming its European and Asian offering from a traditional sponsorship agency to a creative sports marketing agency.

Allied Sports, meanwhile, was founded in the US in 2019, and is owned and operated by Allied Global Marketing.

The London-based Ehrenkranz said the new offering will build on the work the fledgling sport agency in the US has already done, while playing a role in the industry’s post-pandemic recovery.

“We’re an ally to the future of the industry - a trusted partner to brands, rights holders and content creators as we all look to recover from what has happened to each of us,” said Ehrenkranz. 

“We want to position ourselves as helping the industry get back to where it was, and beyond.”

“What we’re trying to do internationally is build on the work they’ve been doing in North America, which is build a full-service agency with a commitment to great ideas and an understanding of how to produce impactful work at its foundation.

“It’s the perfect balance of an entrepreneurial opportunity but with the sound foundation  of this incredible team that's already been built at Allied Sports, alongside the broader Allied Global Marketing Network. And as we build something internationally, it really sets us up well to create something that will be able to differentiate itself.”

We know the pandemic’s effect will be felt across all areas. Public health and wellbeing is the immediate focus, but thoughts will turn not just to the economic impact but also the way it changes people’s outlook on life and their own personal goals.

The ability for large chunks of the workforce to deliver their roles from home has been one revelation, while the shifting landscape of the industry could see more freelancers, contractors and portfolio workers contributing to work.

That’s one of the reasons Ehrenkranz believes this is the perfect time to be starting something new.

“We’re building an agency that’s ‘built for now’,” he said. “One that’s taking into account all the good changes that were happening pre-pandemic, and also the good and bad that we’ve learned throughout this that can help an agency build a better place for people to work.”

“There’s such a surplus of talent across our industry and the opportunity to harness that gives us an amazing opportunity to succeed.

“People have been forced to grow so much during this period and they’re looking for new challenges and opportunities. I think we’ll be able to take advantage of all that great learning that people have been forced to accomplish quicker than they otherwise would have.”

That’s not the only reason Ehrenkranz believes now is a good time to be starting something new. 

The impact of having lost spectators has shown sport the value of engaging and entertaining fans who can’t come to events, but 

“Although we've learned how to leverage the passion for sport without people going to live events - and that's something that will continue to provide value - the key content is still those live events. And when we get to go back to the stadium, that industry will be able to get itself back to where it was before, and will be able to go beyond.

“The broad international sporting landscape has definitely set up an unrivalled calendar for at least the next year and it’s just an embarrassment of riches. 

“I think that will create some of the energy we need to help us get out of this period. So whether that is launching new agencies and other new businesses to the overall industry, the calendar is something we have to look forward to from now through at least Paris 2024.”

In 25 years at Octagon, Ehrenkranz worked across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, and with brands and rights holders like Budweiser, MasterCard, UEFA and Liverpool. That experience will be what he brings to the new venture.

“I’m excited about building an agency that is committed to great ideas,” he said. 

“The old agency world was built on generalists, and we all did everything. In our space, agencies for the future need to be built with true experts in the marketing disciplines. 

“And I feel like we’ve gotten the opportunity to build that from the ground up here.”