When Robert Palmer decided to buy the Jacksonville Armada (NASL), he didn’t plunk down the dollars because he loved the beautiful game. He did so seeing pro soccer as a natural extension of his RP Funding sports marketing business plan.
The name may not mean much outside of Florida, but RP Funding is already a big deal in the Sunshine State: the mortgage financing, title and real estate investment empire is valued at more than $100 million. And Palmer’s plan is to integrate the Armada into his firm’s marketing efforts: he’s already redeployed marketing funds targeted for Jacksonville into the team marketing and operations budget.
Now, using sports as a marketing vehicle isn’t exactly new, and there are plenty of companies who throw the vast majority of their annual marketing dollars into sports. What Palmer has done, perhaps, is merely a logical next step: he’s obtained a sports franchise and integrating that sports franchise into his overall operations. From Jacksonville.com:
“Jacksonville was a key market for us before the Armada,” Palmer said, noting his company expanded its reach from mainly Central Florida operations to Jacksonville about a year ago at an office complex off Baymeadows Road near Interstate 95.
“From a business standpoint, this (Armada franchise) is an advertising experiment for me,” Palmer, 37, said during an interview recently overlooking the soccer pitch at Hodges Stadium on the University of North Florida campus as grounds crews were laying down competition lines on the field in preparation for that first game under his ownership.
“We’re one of the largest radio and TV buyers in the state. Our 2018 advertising and media budget will break $20 million. I’m at a point where I can’t really buy any more TV or radio (advertising) in the markets that we’re in. So, we’ve moved into sports advertising,” Palmer said.
Palmer is also utilizing sports marketing in Central Florida: his firm purchased naming rights to RP Funding Center, the Lakeland arena hosting the new Orlando Magic farm team in the G League.