Jay z`s Roc Nation was founded in 2013 with Jerome Boateng as its very first signee, now the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku , Samuel Chukwueze and only recently Reece James and Siya Kolisi are all part of the star studded roster.
Having had such success over the past few years, Roc Nation has finally decided to establish its first international office in Europe to compete with other known Sports Agencies.
Sportmail had the pressure to tour their newly opened office in London, having been invited by Roc Nation`s International President Michael Yormark , who explained the core values and reasons behind the establishment of Roc Nation.
Three years ago we started the journey with Jerome (Boateng). It gave us a taste of football in Europe. I spent a lot of time over here educating myself on the inner workings of the sport, and pitching the agency vision across our extensive network of club owners, chairmen and sporting directors.
‘I wanted to better understand how players were being represented in Europe and maybe not represented. I saw an opportunity to do something special in a football space.
‘It’s about helping an athlete achieve their objectives both on the pitch and off the pitch. We sign players to a 360 degree partnership, which encompasses transfers, boot deals, strategic brand building, media, PR, marketing, digital and commercial partnerships –alignment across all of those fields is key!
‘The motivating factor is not a money grab for us. It’s about how we partner with athletes in a meaningful way so they can maximise their careers on the pitch and off the pitch, look back at the career and think, “I took advantage of every moment, I cherished my success and now I’m ready for the next chapter. I left my legacy without ever sacrificing my football”.’ Roc Nation Sports International compliment on-field activity, not disrupt.
Yormark believes that players are the most marketable figures in Europe:
There are so many brands here in Europe that aren’t using footballers to endorse their product. We see a lot of that in the US. You look at celebrity power in the US, whether athletes or artists or movie stars – aligning with commercial brands is something that is very relevant.
‘If you think about footballers, their growing popularity, the impact of social media, they should have more opportunities.’
And he wants to see a future in which fans follow players in the same way they currently do their teams:
We see, in the NBA as an example, it is a player’s league – a star driven league. You see the domino effect it has on the popularity of the sport, the popularity of the teams. A player’s popularity dictates match attendance.
Today I look at Inter Milan as an example. Anytime Lukaku gets the ball, something magical could happen. He’s having an incredible season. I want to go to see that.
‘Kids growing up in Italy, Milan, they’re hearing about the king of Milan, Romelu Lukaku, and they want to go see him. Inter Milan is a big brand.
‘Yes, a kid’s mother or father may have been an Inter fan and they might naturally get introduced to Inter but you want that kid to follow players and understand who star players are and admire them and idolise them and follow them.
The player unions in all of the sports in the US are very strong and I’d like to say the player unions and the leagues all have strong working relationships. That doesn’t mean they always agree but they both have seats at the table.’
This office in London is only the start for Roc Nation Sports International, who see themselves opening up more around the globe over the next two years.
Asked where he sees the organisation going, Yormark concluded:
‘We want to continue to build a great company. We want to build to scale. We want to sign more footballers.
We would like to get into others of sports here in Europe – Formula One, tennis. Siya is our first rugby player but I wouldn’t necessarily say rugby as a sport is part of our expansion plan, it matters more about the individual – the story they have to tell and how we can support them in telling it.
‘We’ve been approached by star athletes in different sports here in Europe. We’re considering those but we want to continue building one brick at a time.
‘If we build the foundation the right way, ultimately we’ll have the success we’re looking for.’