CEOs at big corporations often let their marketing managers make local sponsorship deals. A company might wind up supporting Little League teams, arts festivals and other community events.
David D’Alessandro rejects that approach. When he was CEO of John Hancock Financial Services from 2000 to 2004, he adopted a “go big or go home” philosophy.
For example, he invested millions on two high-profile sponsorships: the International Olympic Committee and Major League Baseball. At the same time, he terminated smaller, regional sponsorship deals that some of John Hancock’s managers had championed.
“Major companies need to take on a big sport and really drive through it,” he says. “When I say drive through it, it’s not just buy the sponsorship and the advertising.”
He took additional steps such as stamping the sponsor’s logo on the business cards of his salespeople, showcasing the logo in John Hancock branch offices and arranging for Olympic athletes and baseball stars to speak at the firm’s sales conferences.
D’Alessandro admits that he faced resistance within John Hancock at first. Marketing managers clung to what he calls their “little empire.”
Unwilling to accept the status quo, D’Alessandro asserted his. He wasn’t afraid to dictate to his troops.
“You have to say, ‘We are going to sponsor this. All you get in line,’” he says. “‘Get rid of your contracts. I want everybody here.’ And then what happens is, ‘Oh my God, it starts to work.’”
— Adapted from “The Unplugged David D’Alessandro,” Abraham Madkour, www.portsbusinessdaily.com.