By Simon Ward
Sports Investment Partners, the specialist investment firm headed up by Sir Martin Broughton, the chairman of British Airways, has today acquired a “significant stake” in Supponor, an emerging London-based technology company which offers tailored perimeter advertising solutions.
SIP is investing €13.8 million ($17.2 million) in Supponor, which has developed technology allowing targeted billboard advertising to be shown on television in different countries.
As a result of today’s development, two SIP executives, Matthew Wheeler and Michael Broughton, are to join the Supponor board.
Supponor’s technology enables different branding to be shown on television to that on display in a stadium and is particularly beneficial in countries where advertising of brands in certain sectors, such as alcohol and gambling, is prohibited.
It also provides a platform for increased advertising revenues as different brands can be promoted, if necessary with animation and video, in different countries.
Wheeler said: “This investment is in line with our strategy of investing in quality businesses in the sports sector. Supponor has an excellent product and clear market leadership. The hugely exciting thing for rights holders is that the DBR Live technology allows perimeter advertising markets to be segmented – effectively selling the same billboard space several times over. The sports marketing industry has been looking and waiting for this technology for years. Now it’s here and it works.
“Live sport is important to advertisers because it is one of the very few ways advertisers can get to large audiences and the increased flexibility that this technology provides makes perimeter boards a much more attractive media selling opportunity.”
Supponor’s profile was boosted through activity at the soccer friendly between Norway and England in Oslo on May 26 when viewers of the live television coverage of ITV, the UK commercial broadcaster, saw advertisements for companies such as Corona, Sierra Tequila and bet365 not actually on show at the city’s Ullevaal Stadium.
These brands were not allowed to advertise at the match itself because of Norwegian laws outlawing the advertising of alcohol and gambling at sporting venues.
Supponor’s Digitial Billboard Replacement (DBR) Live technology was also employed at England’s home friendly against Belgium last Saturday and at the friendly against the Netherlands in February, but the Oslo game represented the first time it had been used at a major international soccer match outside England.
Away from soccer, DBR Live was utilised at the European Water Polo Championships in the Dutch city of Eindhoven in January and it is being trialled by various sports governing bodies worldwide.
Supponor said that the new investment will allow the company to “capitalise on several opportunities with major rights holders worldwide.”
Jan Tore Meren, the chairman of Supponor, said: “The major investment by Sports Investment Partners reflects not only on how much we have achieved as a business but also on the potential of the business going forward. We believe we have a compelling offering to the industry. We’re delighted to have such a key player among our shareholders.”
Supponor is the second significant investment by SIP, following on from its investment in the Arena Group, a sports event design firm, earlier this year.
SIP, which is chaired by Sir Martin Broughton, the former chairman of English soccer club Liverpool, was formed in 2010 and its management team includes: Wheeler, the former worldwide managing director of Octagon, the international sports agency; Michael Broughton, formerly of sports executive search business Nolan Partners; John Connolly, the chairman of engineering giant Amec; and Nic Couchman, the founder and chairman of sports business law firm Couchmans LLP.