Van Wagner is a multi-dimensional firm with specialties in sports and entertainment, experiential marketing, and aerial advertising.
Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment (VWSE), is one of the preeminent sports marketing and media sales groups in the world and a leading innovator in property consulting and branding solutions. Originally formed in 1996 with the acquisition of rotating signage company Dorna USA, VWSE is the global leader in naming rights, team and venue services, high-impact visible signage, premium seating programs, technology design, and in-venue content integrations that redefine the fan experience. VWSE not only assists organizations and properties in creating programs that maximize revenue potential, we also help our Fortune 500 clients develop effective and powerful brand campaigns through sports and entertainment. For nearly two decades, VWSE has worked with more than 200 professional and college teams and properties to provide winning game plans that have generated millions on behalf of our clients.
Van Wagner’s Aerial division operates the world’s largest aerial media business, with blimps and planes flying worldwide, reaching billions annually. We work with a wide range of brands, properties, teams, municipalities, public and private entities, and in each case, we help our advertising partners build their brands with fun displays that ennoble the events and venues that we fly over; in addition, our experiential marketing teams often participate in and around the same events on behalf of the brands we represent.
Van Wagner was founded over 40 years ago by Richard M. Schaps, who remains the company’s principal owner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Schaps started out as a New York City cab driver looking for a career path. In 1971, he got into the outdoor advertising business, borrowing $25,000 from his father to buy half of an outdoor advertising company that he operated with his cousins. They started out with one billboard and a handful of painted walls. Schaps quickly grew the business, eventually buying out his partners and creating some of the world’s most well-known and valuable signage.
Over the years, Van Wagner became renowned for its spectacular signage in major markets. The company controlled many of the world’s most famous spectacular signs, digital billboards, street furniture, bus wraps, and high-end displays in parking garages and life style centers. In 1997, Schaps sold Van Wagner to Outdoor Systems, and agreed to a site-specific non-compete. The next day, he and his senior management team, who all became equity owners in Van Wagner 2, went back into business and began putting up spectacular signage.
From 1997 to 2014, Van Wagner grew into the largest privately held out of home company in the country, with over 1,100 high-end, large format displays in the most vibrant and populous cities in the country. In October 2014, Van Wagner sold its outdoor assets to CBS outdoor, while retaining its fast growing sports and entertainment and aerial businesses.