While AT&T Inc.’s sponsorship strategy and property roster move forward unchanged, the sixth largest sponsorship spender in the U.S. has restructured its sponsorship department and introduced new personnel responsible for selection and management of national, regional and local properties.

In March, Jason Simpson was named executive director of corporate sponsorships, taking the reins of the department responsible for partnerships with a host of marquee entertainment and sports properties, including numerous pro teams, the NCAA and the USOC.

Simpson, who previously served as AT&T’s director of Olympic integration, replaced Tim McGhee, who left the company in late ’09 to become senior vice president of IMG Consulting.

AT&T now will have three staff members with the title of director of corporate sponsorship. Where once there were two positions with that title who divided responsibility between property selection/negotiation and activation, the three directors’ duties now are split primarily along regional lines.

Bill Moseley, a department member since 2006 now oversees sponsorships in the western U.S., as well as the USOC partnership. Tyrone Moore oversees ties in the Northeast and Midwest. The company is in the process of hiring the third director, who will be charged with managing ties in the Southeast and Southwest.

IEG SR recently spoke with Simpson about AT&T’s sponsorship direction. Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.

IEG SR: Has AT&T’s sponsorship strategy changed since you became executive director?

Simpson: Stepping into my new role, our strategy remains very consistent. We are constantly striving to connect consumers, customers and fans to the entertainment they love most, while communicating and showcasing our key offering in a meaningful way.

IEG SR: What is the company’s biggest challenge when it comes to sponsorship?

Simpson: Ensuring that we are finding the most effective way to bring our story to life via sponsorship. As a technology company, we offer wireless, broadband, etc. We have a great network and our product and service portfolio is very broad. Our challenge is how to tell that story and get consumers to understand how our technology can make their lives better.

Every sponsorship relationship is unique, and with that comes the challenge of finding the right mix of activation and content to really bring these partnerships to life.

IEG SR: AT&T has often used sponsorship to reach specific audience segments, such as the youth market, Latinos, etc. Is that still the case?

Simpson: We do have a long tradition of reaching out to various segments. The youth market continues to be very important to us, as well as the Hispanic market. We sponsor Mexico’s national soccer team, and we have done a lot with them leading up to the World Cup. We also continue to actively target Asians and African-Americans.

IEG SR: What is the story you told using the Mexican national team?

Simpson: We activated at venues where the team was playing and we also featured content on AT&T Fan Zone.

On site, we continue to promote our wireless service. We are the country’s fastest 3G network and that remains an important piece of how we activate. We also have a great TV product in U-verse and we continue to promote that as well. We are very focused on showcasing new technology offerings, whether it’s new devices or the rich capabilities of U-verse.

We also use sponsorship to inform consumers about our great content and our three-screen strategy continues to be a very important part of how we bring our partnerships to life.

IEG SR: Can you elaborate on the role that content plays in AT&T’s sponsorship strategy?

Simpson: Exclusive content is one of the most important assets we can offer fans and customers as a sponsor. That includes offering something unique that enhances the fan experience, such as behind-the-scenes interviews with athletes and mobile highlights of a game they can’t attend in person to online games, wireless voting or a sweepstakes promotion.

Content is definitely a value-add for our customers. It allows us to directly connect consumers with their passion.

As an example, we have great partnerships with the U.S. Olympic Committee and National Governing Bodies such as USA Gymnastics, U.S. Figure Skating, USA Swimming, U.S. Soccer and USA Diving, and we continue to feature those sports on Fan Zone. We have cool compelling content for fans like Behind the Team with USA Gymnastics, which has been running for four years.

We also bring fans up close to athletes training for London 2012, which is incredible. We’re bringing fans closer to the sports they love and have a passion for.

IEG SR: What type of content do you look for?

Simpson: Exclusive content is key. It starts with having really solid partnerships that give us the ability to showcase content across three screens.

We use that content to promote our partners, and they help us bring unique stories to our consumers. That’s what makes for compelling content.

IEG SR: What is your biggest pet peeve when working with properties?

Simpson: Properties that want to sell you a menu of inventory as opposed to a long-term relationship. We want properties where we can help each other. That’s a true partnership.

It’s “For x you get this, and for y you get this” versus “This is how we can work together to both grow our businesses.”