In February, Hanover Communications, the strategic communications and public affairs consultancy, announced a significant addition to its business with the launch of the Hanover Sport division.

The move will combine the agency’s established sports offering in the fields of brand storytelling, strategic and corporate communications, fan engagement, sponsorship activation, and public affairs.

Hanover Sport was rebranded from The Playbook agency and brings the firm’s sport offering under one title.

The sport division has been created to “support brands and organizations navigating the complex business of sport – from fan ecosystems to decision makers.”

Hanover Sport will incorporate a senior leadership team from across different disciplines and with significant experience in and around the UK sporting landscape.

This includes Gavin Megaw, Hanover president, who has worked with The FA, the English Premier League, and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) providing strategic guidance, Khobi Patterson-Vallis, who supported ministers at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Steph Lis, former deputy press secretary to the Prime Minister, and Ceri Reed, the group head of brand who has led global brand campaigns for the likes of NIKE and Puma.

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With offices in London, Dublin, Brussels, and the Middle East, as well as a network of international partner agencies, Hanover Sport’s work will range from local activations to global templated programs.

Hanover currently develops campaigns for brands, rights holders, sponsors, broadcasters, and regulators including NFL UK, Ultimate Fighting Championship, British Horseracing Authority, Saudi Airlines, and StubHub International, and has previously done so for the Premier League, the ECB, Sky Sports, and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships. 

Rebecca Hargreaves, formerly a director at The Playbook, has been appointed director of Hanover Sport, meanwhile. She has over 15 years’ experience working with brands in sport and is now overseeing the agency's sport work reporting to Gary Cleland, Hanover Group managing director.

Hargreaves has spoken to Sportcal (GlobalData Sport) about the launch of Hanover Sport, plans for 2024, and competing with other players in the sports marketing industry.

Why was Hanover Sport launched?

“Hanover has a lot of experience working with major brands in the world of sport across different disciplines and markets. This includes brand storytelling, strategic and corporate communications, fan engagement, sponsorship activation, and public affairs. The launch of Hanover Sport collates all this expertise into a compelling offering.”

2024 will be a huge year in sports, what major events will you be involved in?

“Through our ongoing partnerships with UFC, NFL UK, and a number of the NFL franchises, we will be heavily involved in the 2024 NFL London Games, and supporting UFC as it returns to Manchester with UFC 304.

“Due to our relationship with the British Horseracing Authority, we will also be involved in the key events in the racing calendar, including the recently run Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National, plus the upcoming Royal Ascot and the St Leger.”

Which sports are you attempting to break into?

“We have a really broad base of experience and expertise across the agency and as a team of sport lovers, we always want to expand the sports that we work with. This will absolutely include doing more soccer work, but also breaking into motorsport using our brand storytelling expertise.

“We will also be focusing on our sponsorship activation work and helping brands across all sports connect with audiences – whether B2C, B2B, or internal.”

How will Hanover Sport differentiate itself from competitors in the market?

“We think that sport provides so many opportunities for brands to grow but the business of sport is complex, you need to understand the ecosystem – from fans to journalists, leaders to policymakers. We understand this and most importantly know how to tell brand stories rooted in sport to a diverse range of audiences. By combining this expertise, we can partner with organizations and brands to really help them grow.

“Our approach is always to become an extension of our clients’ team and create enduring partnerships that evolve with our clients’ objectives. For example, we’ve worked with NFL UK for over 10 years – from introducing them to the market to establishing them as a major sport within the UK sporting calendar.”

Will your work be UK-focused or global?

“We currently have offices in London, Dublin, Brussels, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and the newly opened office in Riyadh, plus a network of international partner agencies. This network allows us the flexibility to work on projects ranging from local activations to global templated programs.”

How will you support brands and organizations navigate the complex business of sport?

“Sport has never had so much power and influence which is why more brands and organisations want to be part of it. However, you need to navigate each sport’s ecosystem and understand what it means to the many different audiences to untap the influence – this includes motivations, priorities, and communications network.

“We have a team of experts in the fields of strategic communications, brand storytelling, sponsorship activation, international affairs, and media and political engagement so that we can help brands and organizations achieve their business goals through sport.”