|Darren Beazley- COO, Perth 2011|
|Profile of the week|
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 09:34
Darren Beazley is the COO of the 2011 Perth World Championships, where he is responsible for all commercial aspects of the Olympic qualifying Event, including marketing and membership, licensing and merchandise, media and communications, sponsorship sales and events and innovation.
Darren arrived at Perth 2011 from Australian Rules football, where he worked for many years in both the football operations and commercial aspects of the game. He worked with the West Australia Football Commission from 1994 - 1998 and was then recruited by the AFL to be the General Manager of the Tasmanian Football Development Foundation, where he also served as Acting Chief Executive Officer.
After three years working with Funge Systems in the USA, he returned to Western Australia and was appointed General Manager, Business Development with the West Australian Cricket Association (WACA).
In February 2005, Darren was appointed General Manager - Strategic Partnerships for the Fremantle Football Club.
You’ve were involved in commercial operations with Aussi Rules and Cricket, how valuable was that experience?
I think critical because coming from professional sports to a sport that is trying to become more professional gives me a much broader and rounded perspective. It also gives me the opportunity to see where they can maximise leverage of certain elements that they’re not at the moment. For example, in professional sport, a lot of the athletes are difficult to deal with and not really prepared to do a lot of the things that you need to do in order to promote the sport, whereas with Olympic sailing, sailors are fairly amateur and tend to be a lot more to willing to do things. The difference in sailing is that they don’t realise how valuable these assets are and they don’t really use them that much.
How difficult is sailing to market? Is it the most difficult out of all the three?
Without a doubt. It’s very challenging because the World Sailing Championships as a brand is only in its third generation so it doesn’t really have a position in the market. Secondly, with Olympic sailing you're talking about Lasers, 49ers, Finns and people don’t know a lot of the time what you’re talking about. They’re not seen as sexy because they’re little small crafts, so trying to commercialise that and get people to buy into that dream has been a real challenge.
How has the economical climate affected your plans to generate funding?
I went out in 2009 to Europe, the U.S and Indonesia to try and raise money with limited success. Not only have we had the global financial crisis up here in Western Australia, you’ve had the added challenge that most of the key decisions are made on the eastern seaboard. So when you ask for significant amounts of money, its pretty hard to make a case to invest in an emerging sport in the most isolated state in the World, which really only represents a small slice of their business.
What are you doing in terms of social media to promote the competition?
We’ve done a lot of work with Facebook and Twitter over the last year or two. This is the right demographic for it because these guys are all younger and into their social media so we’ve used it to try and promote what the ideal of the event is about; engagement and inclusion. We encourage them to give us feedback. We had about 800 at a recent athlete party and that was promoted primarily through handouts and the media. It’s tough with social media, because if you try and commercialise it too much the audience will reject it, because it’s not really designed for that. If you give them useful information, you can learn a lot about how you can improve.
The ISAF invited 40 new sailing nations to send athletes to train in Perth and qualify for the Championships. Why is this important?
It’s become mandatory; it’s called the emerging nations programme. The ISAF, to retain its place in the Olympics, has got to show that a lot more nations are taking the sport up so there are programmes where new nations can take up the sport. Forty nations were identified as “emerging”. It doesn’t mean impoverished, it means like the UAE for example where sailing is certainly emerging. Athletes are invited to participate in seven camps over three years each is essentially a selection process for the next one, it’s been whittled down over the last three years to twelve athletes and they come from places such as Colombia, Latvia, Moldova, they’re now competing in the World Sailing Championships. We hope that one or two from these countries may qualify for London 2012. It’s critically important. It gives you something to talk about. Most media outlets don’t want to talk to you until you’re close to the 16-day event, I’ve used them to promote the event wherever I can and get media coverage. It gives your sponsors something to get involved with they did a lot with the athletes. It gives you communications and PR. It gives you a really broad base to show that you’re doing something positive for the community.