Bastion Experience lures North Melbourne Football Club’s head of sponsorship for group director brand and partnerships role
Strategic partnership, brand and experiential agency, Bastion Experience, has appointed James Bartold to a newly created group director role focused on brand partnerships to meet growing client demand.
Bastion Experience provides an end-to-end partnership offering for clients from strategic thinking and frameworks, brokering deals, devising, leveraging and implementing these partnerships and then executing the customer experience.
Bartold joins Bastion Experience in a national role from the North Melbourne Football Club where he was head of sponsorship, events and commercial strategy. Prior to the Kangaroos, James worked as a management consultant across private and public sector clients, and has held roles as a journalist at the ABC and AFL. This key appointment for the company comes as a result of a renewed focus from clients on brand partnerships as part of their marketing strategy. Bartold’s depth of experience, together with Bastion Experience’s decade-long ability to tap into real-world cultural, audience, competitor and contextual insights will ensure that the business continually delivers best-in-class expertise to clients.
Bartold has been crucial in developing leading sponsorships across AFL and AFLW from ideation, leveraging strategy and execution and leading a diverse team across sponsorship and experiential. He has worked with clients including Mazda, Spirit of Tasmania, Hello Solar, Ego Pharmaceuticals, Chemist Warehouse and McDonald’s. He was also selected as one the Marketing Academy’s scholars for 2021, with only 30 up-and-coming executive marketing leaders selected as part of the program.
Says Matt McCann, CEO, Bastion Experience: “It’s been amazing to see the passion and interest from the industry in brand partnerships as we emerge from 2021. We’ve been heavily involved in the sponsorship industry for over 10+ years and I’m encouraged by the current live conversations happening as brands look to further tap into the deep emotional connection live events and partnerships deliver. After an in depth search to find the right individual, we’re extremely excited about James joining the team.
“Five seasons leading the North Melbourne Club’s partnerships and commercial brand strategy brings a deep understanding of how to build, negotiate, deliver and measure effective sponsorship relationships. We are already seeing James’ impact on our team and our clients, which is brilliant.”
Bartold said there has been significant investment in sponsorship by clients over the past 18 months despite the challenges of fan access and live events. This has allowed Bastion Experience to delve deeper into the experience and relationships our brands want to build with their customers.
Says Bartold: “Despite the different world we’re living in, sports fans are engaged as ever before as we saw with the AFL and NRL Grand Finals having their highest average audiences in 5 years, and the desire to return to activities like music festivals, galleries and attend the ballet hasn’t waned. The emotional connection to these experiences has been further heightened as we’ve been restricted in our access to them and this provides a genuine and increased opportunity for brands to be a part of the experience.
“As brands’ objectives have shifted; sponsorship assets and opportunities have also been disrupted, providing a wealth of new ideas and integration opportunities that can resonate and leave a long-lasting impression. I am excited to be a part of a leader in the space that can help brands navigate the breadth of opportunities and provide solutions which build genuine partnerships that deliver for both parties.”
Bastion works with some of the most widely recognised brands across their partnership strategy and experiential activity including: Xbox, Kia, Kennedy, Ferrari and L’Oreal.