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RBR Interview: Michael Lynch, Head of Global Sponsorship Management, Visa, Inc., by Larry Eder
VISA has been an Olympic sponsor since 1986. Since 1995, the person helping
to steer that sponsorship, in several roles, has been Michael Lynch. Now the Head
of Global Sponsorship Management, Michael has built a global sports platform that
keeps VISA in a positive light day in day out.
The alignment of VISA, Inc. with the Olympic movement has been a huge success. Their
most recent commercials, on TV and on the Web, are some of the most popular with
consumers and the trade press. Who does not love the commercials narrated by Morgan Freeman?
Lynch is quite a spokesman: a life long sportsman, and a lifelong fan of the Olympic sports, VISA has, at the helm of their global sports sponsorship, someone who loves and appreciates the culture of sport and of VISA.
In the interview, it is clear that Mr. Lynch is, on task. He is proud of VISA’s sponsorship
activities, and is quick to enunciate the role the VISA plays in payment transactions, from
food, to sports tickets, to travel, to everyday activities. As a sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team, the Olympic movement and USA Track & Field, among others, VISA is in the right places, at the right time.
As is the RBR practice, we asked Michael for an interview, and he agreed. The questions were sent, and a few weeks later, they were returned. This interview took place the end of March 2010….
RBR, 1. How did you get involved in Sports Marketing?
Michael Lynch: First came my passion for sports which my parents, coaches, and many brothers instilled in me throughout my childhood years, and which carried on through my years at the University of Notre Dame. At the time though, I had no idea the field of Sports Marketing/Management even existed.
Second came my exposure to the field when I worked as an in-house consultant for Timex Corporation where we hired Alberto Salazar and Mary Decker Slaney to promote a predecessor to the Ironman watch I am wearing now, called the Triathlon watch.
Third came my love of Marketing which was the area of business I naturally gravitated to and focused on for my Cornell University Johnson School MBA. Coming out of Cornell Business School, I planned to work for a consumer package goods company in marketing, but sought the unique field of managing and marketing athletes and sporting events. The idea of combining my passion for sports and love of marketing for a career was too good to pass up. I was most fortunate coming out of Cornell in securing a job as the Assistant to the President for the then leading worldwide sports management and marketing firm ProServ, Inc. that represented more than 150 professional athletes and managed more than 150 events annually. At ProServ, I had the pleasure of orchestrating numerous sponsorship/endorsement deals, including one of my early ones of selling General Mills on the idea of utilizing Michael Jordan on their Wheaties box, which quickly taught me that Sports Marketing/Management was what I wanted to do the rest of my career!