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SBJ/20100308/Forty Under 40
Published March 8, 2010
Through 10 years at Momentum Worldwide and the rest of his career at Visa, Andrew Cohen has worked on every domestic sports property of any stature. Yet, he says every sponsorship pitch submitted to Visa’s U.S. headquarters in San Francisco gets reviewed.
“As far as I know, we’ve never done a sponsorship that came to us ‘over the transom,’” Cohen said, “but there’s an obligation for us to see what’s out there and stay in touch with the market.”
Cohen runs Visa’s non-Olympic and non FIFA-related sponsorships in the U.S., including the NFL, NASCAR and the Kentucky Derby, along with entertainment properties such as Broadway shows, and other music and film properties.
That kind of attention to detail, and Visa’s long-standing insistence on ROI measures, now heightened by its two-year-old status as a publicly traded company, are at the root of the success of Cohen, and Visa.
As a TOP Olympic sponsor since 1986, “We’ve been focused on sponsorship returns for some time, but now we’re turning the dial up,” Cohen said. “Post-recession, no one is going to be able to get away without justifying and quantifying sponsorships; before, some did.”
Cohen also rides herd on integrating top-shelf experiences into Visa’s top-shelf Signature card. So at the most recent Super Bowl, you might have found Signature cardholders on field at halftime, watching The Who perform. At the NFL draft, cardholders can earn or win the right to deliver a cap to players who are selected.
While acknowledging that no U.S. property has the reach of the NFL, Cohen takes as much pride in fashioning a promotion with Fandango, Broadway or Visa’s recent sponsorship of the “We Are the World” renaissance as he does in creating one that tied Visa and GameStop to the release of EA’s juggernaut Madden NFL video game.
“Whatever the property, it’s all about brand fit, measurable result, revenue and cardholder access opportunities,” he said.
You don’t have to have worked on every big property to know that — but it doesn’t hurt.