CEO Stories: The Anthem – Singing a Different Tune on Sports Management and Marketing

Joe Gilliland and Larry Lemons

Joe Gilliland and Larry Lemons have parlayed their respective careers in content development and finance as well as their mutual love of golf into a shared vision for disrupting sports management and marketing with The Anthem. By partnering with public relations, digital media, social media, and content-creation companies as well as a franchise and business development company, the two-year-old firm is focused on turning athletes into their own individual businesses, with Anthem acting as “CEO.”

By encouraging athletes to explore their talents and interests outside of sports, Anthem takes a 360-degree view of their clients that enables the company to align them with appropriate partners and expose them to broader audiences. For example, they’ve helped position NFL player and Men’s Fashion Week regular Brice Butler as a fashion icon, and have worked with PGA golfer Austin Cook to raise his profile among non-golf fans. A distinguishing factor of The Anthem’s approach is working with equity partners to create opportunities for athletes from the PGA, the NFL, and now the NBA that go beyond customary sponsorship deals.

In pointing out the difference between their firm and others, Gilliland and Lemons liken the journey they take with their clients as the difference between leading someone up a mountain vs. then helping guide them down the other side, to a comfortable landing. Given how short an athlete’s active career may be – for example, the average NFL career is only three years – Anthem is dedicated to creating long-term value for both athletes and their partners by fostering relationships rooted in common interests and values rather than short-term financial gain.

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