KBS Launches KBS Sports & Entertainment Division

New Offering Will Launch with 10 Employees, Handful of clients

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Jason Banks
Jason Banks

MDC Partners' KBS is launching KBS Sports & Entertainment, the latest in the agency's series of "specialisms."

KBS Sports & Entertainment will operate separately from the rest of the agency with its own employees and will have its own P&L, but will report up to the KBS network. At launch, the new entity has about 10 employees and will be run by Jason West, former VP-client services at KBS Toronto, and Jason Banks, formerly group account director at KBS New York. Both will take on managing director roles in the New York and Toronto offices.

KBS global CEO Guy Hayward, who was named to the post in January, said that the impetus to launch a new separate offering was because the agency had been seeing an increase in the requests for sports and entertainment services -- everything from retail engagement to strategy to experiential activations. Mr. Hayward added that the agency launches separate divisions to offer as much expertise as possible in various disciplines.

"As a whole, we're trying to take our multispecialist approach around the world," said Mr. Hayward. "It's valuable because often specializations are too complicated for generalists, so you need specialists."

Jason West
Jason West

The new division for now will be focused on North America, though the focus will expand globally. It's beginning with about 10 employees between the New York and Toronto offices. At launch it has a handful of clients specific to Sports & Entertainment, though the goal over time would be to offer services from other KBS divisions. Clients include Procter & Gamble's SK-II brand, Nike, and the Luden's throat lozenge brand.

KBS' other divisions include the Media Kitchen, which handles media planning and buying; Attention, its social-media agency; and communications agency Kwittken; along with technology-focused business units like KBS Spies & Assassins; startup investment firm KBS Ventures; and content creation shop KBS Content Labs. The agency has offices in Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Toronto and London.

The shop will compete with more established experiential shops like Octagon and GMR, though Mr. Banks said that the opportunity for KBS is that it can weave in other disciplines like social strategy and content creation. "The business started mostly on the back of experiential work, and then more recently, everyone has been trying to bolt on everything else," said Mr. Banks, who will run the practice out of New York. "As things evolve, the digital and social elements have become popular and those big agencies have brought that discipline in, whereas we already have that capability."

Said Mr. West, who runs the Toronto practice: "It's definitely an exciting time for us. This is a space we both have a passion for and have been in for some time. At KBS, we've been playing in the space, but now we're focusing our efforts and bringing this division to market."

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