In early August, Barrett-Jackson announced that IMG had acquired a 55% interest in the collector-car auction company. The sale price of $261,250,000 gives Barrett-Jackson a total valuation of $475m. However, what makes this story about more than money is the strategic fit between IMG and Barrett-Jackson and how that will benefit bidders and consignors at auction, as well as spectators and viewers at home.
Barrett-Jackson operates four auctions each year, in Scottsdale, AZ; Las Vegas, NV; Palm Beach, FL; and Houston, TX. If you have ever been to one of its sales, you know it’s more than just a collector-car auction. These have become huge lifestyle events. It is in these areas, away from the auction block, that IMG will be bringing its expertise to bear.
Many in the collector-car world may never have heard of IMG, once known as International Management Group, now a subsidiary of Endeavor (which has its roots in the William Morris Agency). IMG started in 1960 as a sports marketing company representing Arnold Palmer. It has grown over the past six decades to encompass ownership, operation, sponsorship sales and representation of events worldwide. These include Professional Bull Riders, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Formula Drift, Frieze art fairs and New York Fashion Week: The Shows.
IMG is also in the event experience business, with hospitality management at major events, including the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, major tennis tournaments, concerts, golf tournaments and many more. Importantly, IMG has been involved in the media production as well as network distribution and streaming of those events. These areas of expertise will benefit Barrett-Jackson and enhance the user experience for its constituents.
We spoke to Craig Jackson shortly after the announcement and asked him what motivated him to do this deal. “I wanted a partner that could help me grow the lifestyle and bring in younger people and grow it worldwide so that this brand lives on forever,” he said. “They are the right partner to help us take it to the next level.”
Currently there are no plans to make any location changes to the four auctions that produced close to $350 million in sales over the last year. Instead, Barrett-Jackson will be focused on “taking everything up a notch,” said Jackson.
He did tell us that we could see some changes as soon as the upcoming 2023 Scottsdale auction, primarily in the hospitality and sponsorship areas. “I’m just super excited at the opportunities that will help us grow our business,” he said.
According to Jackson, the city of Scottsdale is working with the auction company on a new master plan for WestWorld with significant long-term site improvements to the facility.
The organization will also be providing marketing for car dealerships. This will enable Craig Jackson to spend more of his time on the car side of the business, getting closer to the customers. On the TV side, Jackson hopes that we’ll be seeing a lot more content creation and global distribution with IMG. The opportunity also exists for future cross-promotion of Barrett-Jackson with the hundreds of events that IMG either owns, manages or represents.
“I think people should be excited that someone of this size is coming in and looking at our hobby and our industry and wants to help us grow it and bring new people and younger people into it,” said Jackson. “I think that’s great for the hobby.”
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