The sports marketing industry was in its infancy when Kenneth Kennerly, now executive director of The Honda Classic, decided to make a career of it.
The integration of advertising and sports emerged in the sport of sailing in the mid-1980s, he said, speaking to graduate business students at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Monday. “I realized that was an industry I wanted to get into,” he said.
|Ken Kennerly, executive director of The Honda Classic and senior vice president and director of the North America Event Group IMG GOLF, a division of IMG Worldwide, joins PBA faculty members Dr. Joe J. Eassa and Dr. Ed Langlois in the DeSantis Family Chapel during the MBA Award presentation on Monday.|
In the more than 25 years since, Kennerly, who received the American Free Enterprise Day companion medal from Palm Beach Atlantic in November, went on to work with ProServ, Advantage International and Golden Bear International before founding his own firm, IGP Sports & Entertainment Group, in 1996. IGP Sports was acquired by IMG Worldwide earlier this year.
Kennerly was the keynote speaker during the 15th annual MBA Awards, held in the DeSantis Family Chapel. In addition to discussing the rapid growth of the sports marketing industry, he also spoke about his work with The Honda Classic, which has become a major charitable event that most recently raised some $2.4 million for local organizations.
When Kennerly took over The Honda Classic eight years ago, it had about 60,000 spectators. In 2013, the tournament attracted an estimated 168,000 fans, he said.
“We had to think out of the box,” he said. “We had to think about promoting more than a golf tournament.”
That involved creating an entertainment vehicle that was attractive not only to golf fans but to those new to the sport, he said.
Kennerly, a Dartmouth College graduate, also reflected on the decisions he has had to make during his career, such as starting his own business and agreeing to its later acquisition. He now serves as senior vice president and director of the North America Event Group IMG GOLF, a division of IMG Worldwide.
At certain points, he said he had to ask himself, “How do I get to the next level?”
“You’re going to have these crossroads in life,” he said to the students in attendance, advising them also to “follow your gut and follow your dreams.”
The University established the scholarship in honor of Dr. Joe J. Eassa, professor of graduate business studies, and his many years of service to the University. Dr. Eassa presently serves as professor of graduate business studies at PBA.