Back then: Rich Lehrfeld (in jacket) vp-global sponsorships was hitting an ace with AmEx’s sponsorship of the US Open which turned New York into Tennis Town and netted the brand a 2005 Grand Ex Award. AmEx transformed Rockefeller Center into a mini National Tennis Center complete with stadium seating a Jumbotron even a grass lawn. At Flushing Meadows cardmembers received exclusive offers and access. “It’s about understanding the customer ” Lehrfeld said.
Now: Lehrfeld is still on the court for AmEx. Here’s how his strategies are playing out now:
What has changed since the Grand Ex?
We have evolved our thinking in the sponsorship event marketing and experiential space. We continue to build unique and special cardmember experiences and access opportunities that appeal to customers’ interests passions and lifestyle needs. One example is we have expanded our platform within the world of golf by creating unprecedented relationships with the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA). These unique partnerships help us provide our cardmembers better access to the game through special and interesting programs around play instruction travel and experiences. And by doing this we are ultimately supporting the golf industry by driving our customers to engage more with the game. We have also expanded our relationships in other areas that are important to our cardmembers including sports entertainment and fashion.
What is your biggest accomplishment since?
I am particularly proud of being part of a world-class team that has successfully grown the experiential space within American Express over the last few years. We have delivered some incredibly unique and special-value propositions to our customers. I am also very proud of the quality and positive nature of our relationships and partnerships within the sports and entertainment space including the USGA PGA of America Tribeca Film Festival AEG Live Nation Madison Square Garden and the U.S. Tennis Association to name just a few.
What is your biggest challenge going into 2008?
Cutting through the clutter in the marketplace by delivering impactful and relevant communication is critical. We know the marketplace is busy and consumers have more brand choices than ever before and are increasingly able to avoid your messages altogether through technology and the way they choose to be entertained. All this leads to more fragmentation among the brands consumers will ultimately trust. The challenge is finding ways to break through with our messages and encouraging our customers to share with their friends the experiences they have with American Express. To do this we are focused constantly on delivering value benefits and “specialness” so our cardmembers are engaged and potential customers take notice and consider American Express.