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Volume 21 No. 1
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Surf’s up as Lynch takes new marketing post

Longtime Visa sponsorship marketing chief Michael Lynch has resurfaced atop a surfboard. Lynch, who left his job at Visa last January after 16 years with the payment card brand, is the new chief marketing and revenue officer for the Association of Surfing Professionals, the de facto worldwide governing federation for the sport. He will start the new job April 15.

Michael Lynch takes his experience to the Association of Surfing Professionals.
The ASP runs a global tour and was recently bought by ZoSea Media, a group headed by surfing agent Terry Hardy and Paul Speaker, a former marketing director at the NFL. Hardy mounted an unsuccessful rival tour in 2009.

Speaker was named CEO of the ASP, and his group will assume full control for the 2014 tour.

“Paul is someone I worked with when he was at the NFL and someone I consider very creative,” Lynch said. “And the opportunity to build a global sports property that has been recapitalized and one that is headed by someone I really respect in a really entrepreneurial environment was impossible to turn down.”

Lynch said he had spent the past 15 months on the boards of a half-dozen startup companies and consulting for another handful of organizations, including the NCAA and the ASP.

The ASP is moving its global headquarters to Venice Beach, Calif. Lynch, who would not say whether he is receiving equity as part of his package, described his job functions as running communications, marketing, sponsorship and other revenue lines, and building the profile of the ASP through top athletes, like 11-time champion Kelly Slater. Lynch said the ASP had not previously packaged and sold media and marketing rights on a global basis. It will now.

What has been a sometimes factionalized tour has been supported almost entirely by endemic sponsors, such as surfwear and equipment brand Quiksilver. Lynch will attempt to package and sell global sponsorships, which will certainly require some sort of media package.

Overall, the ASP, which has competitions from grassroots to elite levels, will have 115 events in 15 countries next year. Lynch said a recent audience segmentation study reported a base of 78 million fans, largely in five countries: Australia, Brazil, France, Portugal and the U.S.

Lynch says he may also find time to take surfing lessons. “I’ve tried to stand up on a surfboard three times in my life, and none of those were successful,” he said, laughing, “but I don’t think they hired me for my surfing ability.”