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Volume 21 No. 2
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Plugged In: Michael Robichaud, MasterCard Worldwide

Michael Robichaud, vice president of global sponsorships for MasterCard Worldwide, talks about spending on sports in today’s marketplace (and what that does to an overall budget), and shares his thoughts on how to capitalize on the passion of fans.

It’s not necessarily the number of properties you have, but sports are obviously expensive. You’ve got a Champions League, World Cup, any of those things — and it just so skews your spend just because of those big numbers that sit in there. You could have 50 other arts and entertainment, music, and they just don’t necessarily cost that much.

Global golf:
It doesn’t matter if it’s the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Ryder Cup … I certainly believe with the events and the amount of money being put into the sport, I definitely consider that a global property. So that’s probably the one [where] we’re the most active. We can send players over to different events. We can do stuff with our banks. We can do stuff with different geographies that matter to us, different cities that we’re trying to grow.

Working with players: What we like about players is they’re very reasonably flexible. You can kind of move them around. We sent Graeme McDowell over to Northern Ireland to do an unbelievably great event for one of our big banks over in the U.K. We can create and customize that event for them. You see our brand on different players. AmEx is a big sponsor to the U.S. Open, so I can’t do anything there, but we’ve got our players in the U.S. Open, so you’re at least still involved in some ways. We can go across all the different tiers.

Where content comes from: You don’t want to necessarily drive it by the brand. You want the users to do it; they create their own conversations. It’s not like the Jets or Denver were out creating the Tebow tweets. They just happened because that’s what fans were talking about.

The fuel: For us, we just talk about passion. We’re all in this business for the passion.

Why that’s important: As brands, we just want to intercept that and be wherever that point of passion is and then do the best you can to be relevant somehow so that when they’re there absorbing it, you’re relevant. You don’t want to distract from it or get in the way, but you want to be a part of it.