The Gatekeepers: Paul Patsis
Farmers Insurance’s push into sports sponsorship began two years ago after Paul Patsis was named president of market management. His move into that role coincided with the company’s desire to increase unaided consideration of Farmers.
To achieve that, Patsis oversaw Farmers’ new agreements over the last year with: the PGA Tour to title sponsor an event at Torrey Pines; AEG to be the naming-rights partner of a planned NFL stadium in Los Angeles; and Hendrick Motorsports for six NASCAR races on the No. 5 Chevrolet. All of the deals were driven by one goal.
While a sponsorship’s ability to raise awareness is a priority for Farmers, Patsis says the company also looks at other factors before committing to a deal. Key among those is sponsoring a property that shares Farmers’ value system and provides a platform for giving back to the community. Patsis said Farmers was attracted to Hendrick, for example, because the NASCAR team is a winner, values its employees, emphasizes teamwork, and does a great deal of charitable giving.
Similarly, Patsis believes the deals with the PGA Tour and AEG allow Farmers to give back to the community. The deal with the tour provides a platform to promote Farmers’ “Blessing in a Backpack” program, which helps feed elementary school students, while
the one with AEG helps bring business and jobs to the city where Farmers is based.
“It’s not about plunking money down,” Patsis said. “It’s about being an active participant and being a company that’s involved in every aspect of something.”
■ Where properties could do better: “I think an area where we can all strive to do better is to be outside in. That means really put the fan first. If they put the fan first, it will translate to success. In the end, whatever business you’re in, it’s all about the customer and you ought to be customer-centric.”
■ Where brands could do better: “Brands have to tie their brand positioning to a strategy. Too often the approach is to go to an ad agency and ask for ideas and then pick the best ideas. I think the structure should follow the strategy.”
■ Recent program that provided the best return and why: “Certainly our University of Farmers advertising campaign has done great things for us. The reason why is it fits with the strategy for that brand because it’s about delivering insurance services through our exclusive Farmers agents.”