This week, we had the honor to interview Jon Persch the chief commercial officer for American Magic, a US representative for the America’s cup team yacht racing competition.
American Magic is an American yacht racing team formed to compete for the 36th America’s Cup. They represent the New York Yacht Club and were founded by formed in 2018 by principals Hap Fauth, Roger Penske, and Doug DeVos.
American Magic was eliminated from the Prada Cup semi-finals by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on Saturday 30 January 2021, after 4 consecutive defeats. In August 2021 the Team signaled their intent to race in the 37th America’s Cup competition.
📝Show Notes: Throughout this interview, we touched on Jon’s background, and role and responsibilities at American Magic. We also touched on his favorite technologies. We also discussed the NFT/metaverse space and his recommendations to any startups looking to work with American Magic and his plans for the next 12 months.
Best Quotes: Here are some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Jon:
On his background:
- “ This is probably the 27th, 28th year I have been involved in sports marketing. I originally got my undergraduate degree on a football scholarship, and then I started to play international rugby for about 10 years and ended up going back to school and getting an MBA and another master’s in sports commerce from the university of Memphis. So I got my practical education to combine with my own particular background as an athlete. So I thought combining the two would be a great way to launch my career. Someday I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue to play sports. So this gave me the opportunity to still stay involved with something that I loved”.
On how he ended up working for American Magic:
- “I took over as chief commercial officer for the Major League Rugby. And that unfortunately was just prior to the outbreak of COVID and the pandemic. So we had an abbreviated season and the sports world went on hiatus. So I had an opportunity to come back and I was approached to work as the chief marketing officer for USA sailing, which is based in Bristol, Rhode Island. So that’s what gave me the pivot from sort of a traditional sports marketing background with rugby in the agency world to pivoting, to sailing and sailboat racing”.
- “I can say that I’m not a sailor, but I’m really fortunate to have World-class sailors and gold medalists and, and internationally recognized sailors around to help provide any sort of gaps in my knowledge. So it’s exciting. So I was at USA Sailing for about six months and had the opportunity to shift over on the commercial marketing side for American magic and the upcoming America’s cup competition in Barcelona in 2024”.
On his role as Chief Commercial Officer at American Magic:
- “So my particular role with American magic is I as chief commercial officer, I have ultimate responsibility for the marketing, the communications which includes all your traditional PR and sports communication, as well as what we’re going to do from a social media standpoint. And then ultimately at the end of the day, the conversations around what we do with sponsors and suppliers and how that looks and how that feels ultimately resides, resides with me as well”.
On the importance of technologies at American Magic:
- “I certainly think that this really is the most technologically driven sport I’ve ever been around. We have, just in terms of your pure tech, and the way that this looks and feels, our engineers and hydrodynamic assists and Naval architects and all of the models and simulations that they run about the boat and what we’re doing and how that looks and how that feels. We have a dozen of designers and engineers that are associating with the American magic team”.
On the evolution of story telling in sports with the Netflix hit show F1 Drive to Survive:
- “I think F1 has done an amazing job. Two or three years, and I will give full credit to my friend, Mary Barnett, who was the former chief commercial officer for formula one. He was the CCO at world rugby when I was the CCO at USA rugby and we became friends there. And when I moved to WWE, he moved on into F1 and I think it was his team that conceptualized the whole F1 drive to survive, the Netflix reality show”.
- “This is going back to, I think, 2017 or 2018. And I remember meeting with him in New York and thinking it just sounded amazing. I saw something probably three or four weeks ago where they’re just in the United States alone. There’s been an uptick of about 33% of fan engagement from United States, audiences alone. I think the recent F1 grand Prix in Miami with I think they had 500,000 fans or something there over the course of the weekend. They’re moving to Vegas. They’ve got one in Austin. So I think what we’ve seen as we’ve seen how narrative storytelling has captured an audience that ordinarily wouldn’t have necessarily been engaged”.
On his plans for the next 12 months:
- “We have, we have a world-class skipper and Terry Hutchinson. We’ve got two world-class helmsmen with Paul Goodison and Tom Slingsby. The team is starting to sort itself out, but there’s still a lot of roles for grabbed there. Our base is on its way back from New Zealand to here in Pensacola”.
- “So it’s getting the basis. And for me personally, it’s what I’d like to try to do as best as we can and we’ll always look to bring partners on board and we’ll always look to have opportunities to engage. But I would like to is get away from a lot of the revenue chasing, and get the partners situated to a large degree. So we can talk and start telling the story”.
- “The story I think is where we make great ground for the next campaign for AC 38, NACY 39. The goal here with American magic is to build a franchise, not just put a boat in the water for October 2024”.