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Meet Jonno Turner – one of global sport marketing’s rising stars

2019 was a landmark year for communications guru Jonno Turner. At the turn of the year, he was named as one of the UK sport industry’s ’30 Under 30’ leaders of the future – and by the autumn, the prestigious Clio Awards had selected him as one of their top 25 creatives globally. Over the […]

Jonathan Turner during Sports marketing and sponsorship conference Sporto 2019, on November 21, 2019 in Hotel Slovenija, Congress centre, Portoroz / Portorose, Slovenia. Photo by Vid Ponikvar / Sportida
Jonathan Turner during Sports marketing and sponsorship conference Sporto 2019, on November 21, 2019 in Hotel Slovenija, Congress centre, Portoroz / Portorose, Slovenia. Photo by Vid Ponikvar / Sportida

2019 was a landmark year for communications guru Jonno Turner. At the turn of the year, he was named as one of the UK sport industry’s ’30 Under 30’ leaders of the future – and by the autumn, the prestigious Clio Awards had selected him as one of their top 25 creatives globally.

Over the last few years, his work has seen him lead communications for a ground-breaking Olympic Games bid, host live content for BBC One’s social channels from the BAFTAs red carpet, and deliver speeches and conferences to huge audiences on five continents.

Hi Jonno! You’ve spent the last decade working internationally with some of the biggest names in sport – what is it about sport that attracts you?

Hi Desi. To be honest, I wake up every day feeling really lucky to be part of such a vibrant and inspiring industry. Global sport moves so quickly, it’s a really challenging area to work in and gives you a real buzz.

One of the highlights for me is that I spend many of my days around world-class athletes – Olympic champions, record-breakers and pioneers. These are incredible people, from all walks of life, who have achieved greatness and inspired millions around the world. There’s something super inspiring about surrounding yourself with a crowd like that, and I think it really helps you to level up.

To be honest, my start in the industry came through my love for sport and storytelling. I knew that I wanted to work creatively to bring powerful stories to life – and I’ve been very fortunate to work with some incredible brands including Twitter, Snapchat, Red Bull and the Olympics during that time.

You spoke at SPORTO (a European sport conference) last year where I really enjoyed your speech on fan engagement in the age. What are the top three things that brands should focus on in 2020?

I think, in a nutshell, the key to engaging social content for brands lies in an ABC: Authenticity, Behind-the-Scenes, Community. Authentic, because fans expect authentic, real stories. Behind-the-scenes, as they want more access than ever before – and Community-focused, because brands should absolutely look to harness the power of their communities. I think that’s one of the biggest learning that traditional sport brands can take from e-sports – the power of community. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re seeing more brands go ‘live’ with less production quality, and it’s working well – I think that now, more than ever, the true value in content isn’t so much about how it looks, but how it makes you feel.

You’re regarded as one of the leading sports marketers in the industry – you’ve delivered speeches around the world and your articles and blogs receive thousands of views and comments. What’s next for you?

Well, that’s very flattering, but there are many brilliant and inspiring people in the sport industry. My work in global sport means I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot and meet many new inspiring people. I’ve also seen the power of sport to truly drive change on a global scale. Over the last few years, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on sustainability campaigns with the likes of the United Nations (to reduce ocean plastic) and the Olympic bid, and it really is encouraging to see all the work being done to reduce our impact in this important area.

What advice do you have to communicators and marketers wanting to step into the sport industry?

Say ‘yes’ more. That’s always been my philosophy and it’s led to me working with some fantastic brands. It’s amazing how one positive decision can lead to another. Gain as much experience in as many areas of the industry as possible, and ask questions!

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