March 14, 2013

A Day in the Life: Sponsorships

Welcome to A Day in the Life, where we take you behind the scenes at JetBlue to learn more about the important jobs that work in concert together to run a major airline. This time, we visit with Rick, who manages our National Sponsorships.

Rick sporting of all his sponsorship swag

Rick’s overarching task is to identify and suggest potential partnerships that align with our commercial goals and match our sensibilities as a brand. Innovative brands with passionate fan bases, like our partnerships with Barclays Center in Brooklyn and USC Athletics, for instance, are a great fit for us given that we’re an airline that likes to do things differently. Each partnership decision is made with a delicate level of consideration in order to build brand awareness in the focus cities that we serve as well as building trust with our customers. Partnerships are one important way that we’re able to show we care about the same things that those in the communities that we serve attach themselves to.

Rick has worked on JetBlue’s Brand and Advertising team for the past two years vetting, researching, coordinating and managing our sponsorship partners. His work has extended beyond just sports; other programs he’s worked on include our entertainment partnerships such as the Tribeca Film Festival, our concert series Live From T5, and our online store ShopBlue. He also helps vet and direct any number of other, more localized sponsorship requests that come in to our Promotions or Regional Marketing teams for further consideration.

Partnership renewal announcement with Florida Panthers in Fort Lauderdale

If you open Rick’s desk drawer you’ll find a sports fan’s greatest dream – tickets to all sorts of sporting events; football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, golf, to name a few. No, Rick doesn’t keep them for himself (although he does get to go to some great events), but he coordinates allocating these tickets from our partners to crewmembers, customers and business partners.

The most challenging part of Rick’s job? “Saying no to people,” he relays. Rick receives dozens of sponsorship requests each week, and he evaluates each one through the lens of our allotted resources and whether it’s a brand fit to determine whether it might be pursued further. He helps guide our approach in each of our partnership ventures based on the unique aspects of a particular region. New York, for instance, is very different from Boston or from Salt Lake City in terms of how we look to partner and what the terms of those partnerships look like. Our partnership with Utah’s soccer team Real Salt Lake, for instance, is focused around supporting our 2,000 Customer Support crewmembers, contrasted with Boston, where we’re the largest carrier and the Red Sox are the most attended team in the city.

Opening Day at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida

Sports are a “passion point” for Rick and he enjoys that the focus on his work is also of personal interest to him. While he feels lucky to have met athletes and celebrities and engage in great experiences, he prefers to “stay in the background and let JetBlue and its crewmembers be the focus.”

Rick sees his job as an opportunity to “create experiences for people that they’re never going to forget,” like the customer whose request to fly on the Jets plane was met or the crewmember who got the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game. One of the most interesting parts of Rick’s job is coordinating partner livery designs like we did with the Jets and the Red Sox, among others.

Brooklyn Nets cheerleaders at our home at JFK’s T5

When Rick’s not at major league sports arenas or rubbing shoulders with athletes and sports personalities, he is consumed with tasks like contract negotiations with our potential new partners. Negotiating terms of a new partnership can take anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year. He also spends time on arguably less glamorous though no less important tasks like mailing materials and tickets our for various purposes, and coordinating assets like charter flights as well as advertising, in-stadium signage and creative events to promote the partnerships and JetBlue.

Prior to JetBlue, Rick worked for Madison Square Garden on such partnerships as Absolut Vodka, Capital One and Delta (where knowledge of the airline industry helped prepare him for his current post).

Check out the previous editions of A Day In The Life and meet:

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