Because 2009 has been a year of change for United Parcel Service, Inc.’s sponsorship program–including a new international golf platform and a new NASCAR Sprint Cup driver–IEG SR decided to check in with Ron Rogowski, the company’s head of global sponsorships.

Rogowski fashioned UPS’s four-year partnership with the PGA European Tour, a tie that includes sponsorship of six events each year. Since signing that deal late last year, the company has added a four-year official supplier relationship with Britain’s Open Championship, as well as endorsement deals with England’s Lee Westwood and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal.

Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.

IEG SR: What’s the role of golf in UPS’s marketing mix?

Rogowski: Many of our sponsorships around the globe are done at a regional level. Being a global company, we were interesting in a sponsorship platform on a global scale, and golf has always been a sport that indexes highly with C-level decision-makers with large transportation needs.

The European Tour was a great opportunity. What we liked most is that you have not only the European tour, but the Asian Tour as well. When we signed on, one of our objectives was to move the tour’s 52 events around the world.

In Europe and Asia we have varying degrees of brand recognition. This gives us an opportunity to not only target the C-level with hospitality, but also put some branding on golf courses and–through our endorsement deals–have brand ambassadors who give us additional branding as well as activation around customer events.

IEG SR: How is the program going so far and what kind of metrics do you use to determine success?

Rogowski: We’re in the process of measuring some of the results. Indications show that we did a nice job.

We’re largely a business-to-business company, and we’re able to target and measure customers who attended, before and after an event. And depending on where we are in the world, we’ll look at branding and recognition numbers. We look at those a little bit less in the U.S.

We use qualitative and quantitative metrics to determine success. We put a lot of emphasis on bottom-line revenue results.

IEG SR: UPS has been involved with NASCAR for nearly a decade. That would indicate you’ve driven those kinds of results.

Rogowski: When we got involved with the sport in 2000 we were doing business with 40 percent of NASCAR’s major sponsors. Now we’re doing business with more than 90 percent.

Like golf, we help NASCAR move to 37 races. We also do a lot of hospitality.

NASCAR indexes well with a key customer: mid-level transportation decision-makers.

We’ve used our NASCAR sponsorships to showcase our technology. We provide shipping services for packages coming in and out of the garage. That’s a very good imprint. It lets us talk to race teams, manufacturers and others that have issues with logistics and transportation.

Many people associate UPS with small packages and shipping around the holidays. NASCAR has helped position us as a solutions provider on a global basis within our largest market, the U.S.

IEG SR: David Ragan replaced Dale Jarrett in the driver’s seat for the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion. How did that change impact the sponsorship and its activation?

Rogowski: We’ve done more with Twitter and other digital media to connect David to our customers and fans.

David uses Twitter and blogs on our racing Web site, along with Dale Jarrett and the folks from Roush Fenway. We want to provide content people can’t get anywhere else. We use Twitter to provide real-time updates. We have people at every race who provide every little mundane detail about what’s going on; NASCAR fans covet that type of information.

We’ve also launched a new ad campaign that has a different approach to the NASCAR program and the attributes UPS brings to the table.

IEG SR: What impact has the economy had on your sponsorship program?

Rogowski: There’s a higher emphasis on measurement, and, more importantly, how we fully utilize our assets. We challenge ourselves all the time to use the assets across our marketing and communications platforms. That includes digital, direct mail and employee recognition.

For example, this year we’re running a NASCAR ad campaign that compliments our overall brand messaging. In addition, David Ragan is helping the UPS Foundation promote our teen safe driving program with the Boys & Girls Clubs.

At A Glance: UPS
2008 estimated sponsorship spend
$35 million to $40 million

Key sponsorship decision-maker
Ron Rogowski, head of global sponsorships

National/international sponsorships
• NASCAR
• Title, Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Team
• Five NASCAR tracks
• NHRA
• NTRA
• PGA European Tour

Sponsorship hot buttons
• Business from sponsored property
• Platforms to demonstrate transportation expertise
• Hospitality for customers and prospects

Sponsorship decision-making process
Rogowski manages national and international sponsorships, as well as trade shows. UPS sponsors regional and local events out of seven regional headquarters. Accepts proposals at UPSSponsorships.com.