Engine Shop moves further into eSports and soccer with SA Studios acquisition
Engine Shop, the USA-based engagement and experiential marketing agency owned by George Pyne’s Bruin Sports Capital, has boosted its expertise in soccer and eSports with the acquisition of the eSports and soccer divisions of SA Studios Global, led by eSports pioneers Scott Debson (pictured below) and Jamie King (above).
Engine Shop said: “With this move, Engine Shop extends its industry-leadership in eSports strategy, content and live event production capabilities. It is also the springboard to launching a new international soccer practice. All of this adds further momentum and a new dimension to the award-winning Bruin Sports Capital company.”
The deal also builds on last year’s acquisition by Engine Shop of The Gamer Agency, an eSports strategy, event production, and development company.
Engine Shop said: “Debson and King are award-winning creative talents with careers of groundbreaking work connecting brands to hundreds of millions of consumers through next-generation digital, mobile, event and gaming platforms. King, now Executive Vice President eSports, for Engine Shop, is a group BAFTA recipient for lifetime achievement in video games as a co-founder of Rockstar Games for Take-Two Interactive. He was a leading member of development teams that produced 85+ video games including runaway hits Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne, Midnight Club and Red Dead. Since 2012 he has specialized in eSports and livestream production working with clients including Microsoft and T-Mobile. He and Debson will report to Brian Gordon, Engine Shop CEO and Chris Handy, Engine Shop President.”
Engine Shop added: “Debson, Executive Vice President Strategy, will be a key player in the agency’s eSports business while driving the development of its U.S Soccer and global football business. He co-founded SA and spent 11 years at the agency working with numerous Fortune 100 brands developing lifestyle and cultural marketing strategies and campaigns, including Major League Soccer, Umbro, Machinima, MetroPCS and Bob Marley Music. Prior to SA he was General Manager for Zingy, at the time, the largest mobile content company in North America, overseeing a content portfolio of more than 400 licenses, across personalization content, applications, mobile games and video. Debson also launched one of North America’s first original content studio for mobile video during his tenure.”
ES is presently producing over a hundred competitions and advising professional sports teams, global brands and leagues. Collectively, Engine Shop now comprises a group of over two dozen specialists in eSports strategy, production and distribution, producing tournaments that reach millions of fans worldwide, setting the stage for ES and Bruin to venture into owned and operated eSports ventures.
Engine Shop described the deal as “part of a sweeping metamorphosis of Engine Shop – into a global sports marketing practice.”
It added: “As part of the acquisition, ES is now the US agency for Umbro and will also act as the lead agency for eMLS, MLS’ competitive FIFA 18 league. eMLS’ inaugural eMLS Cup took place at PAX East in Boston 5-8th April, breaking numerous records for viewership and social media impressions for the FIFA 18 title in North America. This is on top of its work operating the Mixer NYC Studio for the Microsoft 5th Avenue Flagship in New York City. The studio produced nearly 100 gaming and eSports events in 2017.”
In February, Terrence Burns, the Olympic bid and marketing strategist best known for his work with the likes of Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, PyeongChang 2018, Russia’s bid to host the 2018 Fifa World Cup and LA 2028, joined Engine Shop, just weeks after announcing the launch of his own consultancy, T Burns Sports Group.
Engine Shop’s clients include the likes of Anheuser-Busch, ESPN, Greyhound, Johnson & Johnson, Mercedes-Benz, Moët Hennessy, Tiffany & Co. and Under Armour, and it has offices in Beverly Hills, Atlanta (where Burns is based) and Miami.
Gordon said: “Quickly, we have established our eSports capabilities on par with our collection of best-in-class services in global sports and entertainment. We have the same aspirations for our new global football practice. All of this is built around a deeply talented and creative team and now we add to that with renowned pioneers in eSports and global football who know where and how to captivate audiences. It’s another in a series of moves with more ahead, that has our team and our clients very excited.”
David Abrutyn, partner, Bruin Sports Capital, said: “We have been on a journey with Engine Shop to capitalize on their creativity and innovative approach to results driven engagement marketing to build the next generation global sports and entertainment agency. These investments along with several others that will be forthcoming, demonstrate our commitment to ensure Engine Shop is best-positioned to support the ever-changing client needs and stand at the forefront of the sector for a long time.”