August 21, 2011

The Bottom Line: Making a splash

A sports marketing pro expands into entertainment by landing a whale of a client.

By J. Hemmerdinger
Staff Writer

Shamrock Sports & Entertainment just hit a home run.

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Brian Corcoran, president and owner of Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, has been building his business in Portland since January 2010, after working in sports marketing for the Red Sox, NASCAR and others.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, based in Orlando, Fla., chose Shamrock Sports & Entertainment over major marketing agencies.

The Associated Press

Additional Photos Below



HISTORY: Corcoran founded Shamrock in January 2010 after working for decades in the sports marketing industry. He held senior positions at CBS Sports, Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, and NASCAR. Shamrock launched with five staff members and a few clients, including Professional Bull Riders and the Red Bull Air Race.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: Eight, with plans to add two to four by early 2012.

EXECUTIVES: President and owner Brian Corcoran

WORTH NOTING: While working at NASCAR, Corcoran spearheaded one of the largest ever sports sponsorship arrangements: a $750 million, 10-year deal with Nextel Communications.

FINANCIAL: Corcoran expects the firm to generate $1 million in revenue in 2011.

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.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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CEO Brian Corcoran meets with staff at Shamrock’s offices on Commercial Street. His sports and entertainment marketing firm has eight employees now and he plans to add two to four staff members by early 2012.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer


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