SBJ/April 3 - 9, 2006/This Weeks News

Two marketing leaders leaving Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel vice president of sports marketing Michael Robichaud is leaving the company, a departure that comes some seven months after Sprint’s $35 billion merger with Nextel was completed.

Michael Robichaud was involved in some of the
largest sponsorship deals ever in his nine years at
Nextel and Sprint Nextel. He leaves his post in May.
Robichaud, who started on the Nextel side of the business nine years ago, said he expects to leave the telecom giant in May. At the same time, as sponsorship and sports marketing power shifts to Kansas City and sponsorship head Tom Murphy, Jill Gregory, who headed Sprint Nextel’s massive NASCAR sponsorship as director of Nextel Cup marketing, is leaving for a marketing and sponsorship post at Bank of America.

During Robichaud’s nine years at Nextel and Sprint Nextel, he was involved in some of the largest sports sponsorships ever, including Nextel’s 10-year, $750 million deal with NASCAR and Sprint Nextel’s five-year, $600 million partnership with the NFL.

Robichaud, a two-time honoree of SportsBusiness Journal’s Forty Under 40 award, said he is looking at jobs in and out of sports, but ideally hopes to stay within the technology sector, which is rife with brands and properties looking for new ways to commercially exploit digital content. Robichaud said he will stay in his current job at least through the May 20 Nextel-titled all-star race in Charlotte. He also talked about possibly moving from his base in Reston, Va., to Charlotte, where his NASCAR connections are deep.

“We’ve seen enormous consolidation and technological change within the category during my time, and that’s been fun to watch,” said Robichaud, 37. “As far as the [sponsorship] assets we brought in here, we’re just scratching the surface in terms of what we can do in tandem with other sponsors. And as your phone becomes your payment system, your music and video source, and everything else, this area will just continue to explode, so it’s something I want to be around to see.”

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