Shamrock Sports & Entertainment just hit a home run.
Earlier this year, Orlando-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, owner of some of the country’s largest amusement parks, hired Portland-based Shamrock to help manage corporate sponsorships and other marketing programs.
The deal has catapulted Shamrock, which launched in January 2010 as a sports marketing firm, into the broader entertainment marketing industry.
“That’s our David versus Goliath story. We went up against all the major agencies,” said Shamrock founder and CEO Brian Corcoran, 42.
Though SeaWorld is Shamrock’s largest client, the start-up firm has signed deals with other notable brands, including Professional Bull Riders Inc., and Richard Childress Racing, which owns NASCAR teams.
Corcoran attributes Shamrock’s early success partly to relationships he’s built during decades working in sports marketing. But ultimately, he said, Shamrock wins work by understanding the intricacies of clients’ businesses.
“The biggest compliment we ever get is, ‘Thanks for taking time to know more about us than we know about ourselves,’” said Corcoran, while sitting in his Commercial Street office earlier this week.
Corcoran’s colleagues agree.
Carl Hansson, a member of Shamrock’s board of directors and founder of Atlanta-based TSS Photography, said Corcoran “can probably drill down and understand what the client needs — maybe before they realize what they need.”
Shamrock, which Corcoran expects will generate more than $1 million in revenue in 2011, is primarily a sports marketing agency.
The company specializes in helping sports teams, sport governing bodies, athletes and entertainment venues find sponsors.
For instance, while attending the 2011 Super Bowl outside Dallas, Shamrock executives introduced National Guard officers to two owners of teams in the Arena Football League.
They discussed the popularity of arena football and the demographics of arena football fans.
“Upon learning about the AFL’s young, male-dominated audience, the National Guard asked for us to pitch them a partnership,” said Corcoran.
Shamrock ended up brokering a sponsorship deal in which the league used the tagline, “Arena Football Nation Presented by the National Guard” during the 2011 season.
Shamrock also recently arranged a deal between Whelen Engineering Inc., which makes a variety of emergency lights and sirens, and Professional Bull Riders.
Starting at a rodeo this fall in Connecticut, Whelen’s lights will flash when a bull rider finishes an 8-second ride.
In addition to helping clients find sponsors, Shamrock’s creative services division designs logos and websites and helps clients create sales presentations.
Shamrock also studies the value of clients’ assets, such as entertainment venues, stadiums and billboards, and uses that information to attract sponsors.
Corcoran’s experience in sports marketing stretches back decades.
He was born and raised in Old Orchard Beach and attended Old Orchard Beach High School. Corcoran left Maine to study at Eastern Kentucky University, earning a bachelor’s degree in sports science and a graduate degree in sports management. He graduated in 1993.
As his career progressed, Corcoran held increasingly high-level positions at sports companies. He worked in Atlanta for the Olympic committee organizing the 1996 Games there, in Dallas at sports marketing firm Host Communications and in Boston for CBS Sports.
He later moved to the Washington, D.C., area to work for SFX Sports Group and Clear Channel Communications, then took a job as managing director of corporate marketing for NASCAR in New York City.
At NASCAR, Corcoran helped spearhead a $750 million, 10-year sponsorship deal with Nextel Communications.
He then returned to Boston to manage marketing relationships at Fenway Sports Group, owner of the Boston Red Sox. Corcoran’s clients included NASCAR team owner Roush Fenway Racing, Professional Bull Riders and the Red Bull Air Race.
When Fenway Sports decided to focus primarily on its Red Sox business, Corcoran decided to start his own firm.
He moved back to Old Orchard Beach and launched Shamrock, signing former clients Professional Bull Riders and the Red Bull Air Race.
Today, the company has eight employees and plans to add two to four more staffers by January 2012.
Shamrock diversified into the broader entertainment market when the company began working earlier this year with SeaWorld.
Corcoran said the SeaWorld deal could eventually help Shamrock’s new entertainment division generate $1 million in revenue.
Other clients include USA Ski Jumping, American Bass Anglers and Goulian Aerosports, an air racing company.
A local client is Casco Bay Sports, which organizes local leagues for sports like softball, dodge ball, flag football and soccer.
Casco Bay Sports’ director of operations Patrick Hackleman said Shamrock helped his company find new marketing partners.
“As a small business owner, it’s great because (we) don’t have the resources or time to approach these companies ourselves,” he said. “It’s a way for us to network locally to other partners.”
Corcoran said he expects Shamrock to experience moderate growth in the coming years, but he wants the company to remain a “boutique” firm with a small number of employees and a short list of active, high-profile clients.
Shamrock board member Hansson thinks Shamrock has succeeded partly because Corcoran welcomes advice from other entrepreneurs.
For instance, Hansson said Shamrock’s board of directors is stacked with experts in marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and other fields.
“(The board) gives him years of knowledge on how to handle all types of situations,” Hannson said. “(Corcoran) invites serious business people to sit around the table and critique everything he is doing.”
Jon Hemmerdinger can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: