In a move to boost its internal brand marketing division, sports agency Excel Sports Management has acquired Game Seven, a creative and experiential marketing agency with a focus on sport and culture. Game Seven has worked on campaigns for clients including Nike, Foot Locker, Timberland, Oakley, Bleacher Report, Instagram, TikTok, Meta and Spotify. Red Bull, Under Armour, PWC and sports video game publisher 2K are among those Excel’s Brand Marketing division has worked with.
Excel, whose clients include Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter, will bring Game Seven’s creative, digital and experiential practices under its umbrella, but the newly acquired agency will retain its name. Co-founders Justin and Matt Leonard, who started their shop in 2010, will continue to lead Game Seven together and retain a minority stake in the business. Further financial details were not disclosed.
The acquisition is part of Excel’s larger endeavor to transform its business from “a sports consultancy into a modern brand marketing agency with a focus on sports, entertainment and culture,” said Tuck Burch, head of brand marketing at Excel.
“In order to do that, there are a couple areas where you really [have] to focus your attention on specialized offerings,” Burch said. “We did that in the data analytics and measurement space last year and needed to shore up our creative, digital strategy and experiential marketing capabilities. Game Seven has just been an incredible agency in that regard and was a fantastic fit for us culturally.”
In 2021, Excel acquired data insights and partnership valuation company Block Six Analytics. The agency also launched a new media division, expanding into original programming and branded content as well as media talent representation. More recently, Excel hired veteran agent Erin Kane as vice president of women’s sports to bolster its work in that area.
For Game Seven, the goal is to accelerate growth by tapping into both Excel’s reach and corporate infrastructure.
“We have been an independently owned boutique shop for 12 years; we have an incredible client roster; we’ve been blessed to have year-over-year growth from when we started,” Justin Leonard said. “But this acquisition unlocks [an] ability for us to scale well beyond what we would have been able to do on our own. We’re an agency that has traditionally relied on organic growth—word of mouth. We’ve never really had a sales department or any development function for the agency. … Having the other functions around the business that Excel does so well will [help us] scale beyond what we were able to each do individually.”