Calgary-based Manifesto began just over six years ago as a small boutique agency representing athletes. Now it’s playing on the same level as global heavyweight giants in the industry.
It’s focus, under the leadership of president Russell Reimer, is on Olympic sports, action sports and pro athlete management, brand consulting and content production, and major event bid strategy and fund development.
“I called it Manifesto because it’s also had an individual passion for athlete advocacy in Canada,” says Reimer.
“This is about helping young people create a financial foundation that can lead to greater success on the ice or snow or wherever they’re competing for Canada.”
Manifesto represents numerous Olympians, such as Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Mark McMorris, Denny Morrison and Kaillie Humphries. It represented 10 athletes who competed for Canada at the recent PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
It’s a growing business and in 2017 Manifesto welcomed Dan Kuzmarov as partner and vice-president, and opened an office in Toronto with a focus on growing a pro athlete division. It represents Marcus Stroman, Mitch Marner, Shea Weber, Nolan Patrick and Sam Bennett.
“We are an athlete agency that supports the marketing, endorsements and branded elements of some of the best athletes in the country – action sports, Olympics and pros,” says Reimer, who had worked in the sports marketing field for about eight years prior to starting Manifesto.
“We’re beginning to round out our pro division, which is more major league baseball and NHL talent as well.”
Reimer says about 15 or 16 years ago, he started thinking about how best to represent athletes.
He had worked at NBC as a producer at a couple of Olympics, Sydney in 2000 and Salt Lake City in 2002.
“The more I got to connect with a lot of these athletes I realized that it was the same in the United States as it was in Canada, these athletes had a very under-developed sense of their own value,” says Reimer. “As a journalist at NBC, a producer at NBC, I came to believe that storytelling was the currency of the Olympic movement and that athletes and their stories were really at the heart of everything that was done on the broadcast.
“I began to realize that storytelling was at the centre not just of how NBC told stories but of commercial value as well. If I could develop a pioneering approach to storytelling effectively to create a connection with brands and sponsors then the sport wouldn’t matter as much. Whether you were in hockey or skeleton, it’s less important than the story you have and how that story can emotionally connect with audiences.”
That ultimately developed into the business of Manifesto.
Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.
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