Sports marketing firm changes name, grows HQ, plans hiring blitz

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Sports and entertainment marketing agency U/S Sports Advisors has embarked on what it hopes is a breakout season by changing its name, expanding its headquarters and planning to triple its workforce by 2019.

U/S Sports Advisors has been renamed Charge, according to founder and owner Ken Ungar, a former chief of staff for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and deputy chief of staff for former Gov. Evan Bayh.

Founded in 2006, Ungar said his firm—which specializes in marketing, talent branding, event management, sponsorship and merchandising—outgrew its original name and its offices at 96th and Meridian streets.

“People thought the US stood for United States and therefore thought we didn’t do business globally,” Ungar told IBJ. “This comes at a time when we are growing internationally, and that part of our name was causing confusion."

The US actually stood for Ungar Strategies, he explained.

““We’re moving more into entertainment, and the sports part of our name is limiting,” Ungar said, adding that a lot of his firm’s athlete clients are crossing over into entertainment.

Charge has specialized in getting its athletes exposure outside of sports. For instance, NASCAR driver and Charge client Kyle Larson was recently featured as a father figure in Parenting Magazine. Charge also has helped client Ty Dillon, also a NASCAR driver, gain exposure for his expertise in fantasy sports.

“We want to help our clients gain exposure through those things that are true organic extensions of their personalities,” Ungar said.

The firm started mostly as a consultancy, which was reflected by the word "advisors" in its former moniker. It's is now moving more into event, digital and athlete marketing, Ungar said.

“We recognized the need for a name that speaks to our full-service marketing work in multiple industries, including sports and entertainment,” Ungar said. “The Charge brand is dedicated to the philosophy that ideas change the world. We not only energize clients with exciting and innovative marketing approaches, we help them charge forward and make great ideas a reality.”

In addition to the name change, Charge recently spent $1.1 million to expand its headquarters at 250 E. 96th St. in Indianapolis from 4,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet. It plans to grow its staff, which currently numbers 12. Ungar said he hoped to finalize the hire of two people this week and bring on about two dozen more employees over the next two to three years.

“We’ll be hiring a number of brand marketers, event marketers and publicists,” Ungar said.

While company officials have discussed opening a second office in Southern California, Ungar said the firm will always be headquartered in Indianapolis.

Ungar’s firm does work for several NASCAR drivers, the race series itself, 12 NFL players, American Honda, Honda Performance Development, NASCAR, St. Vincent Sports Performance, Capital Sports Advisors, Sports Car Club of America and LiveSafe, among other clients. Charge also has worked with NFL stars such as Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and former Chicago Bears receiver and return specialist Devin Hester.

Ungar declined to divulge the firm’s revenue, but said it was growing at a 20-percent to 40-percent clip annually.

“We think this new name reflects our future path,” Ungar said. “We continue to see great growth opportunities.”

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