Zurich North America Has a Story to Tell

May 12, 2021 Zurich North America Has a Story to Tell

In his role reporting directly to the CEO, Steve Nolan oversees all aspects of marketing and communications for the leading multi-line insurer, including its largest sponsorship, the Zurich Classic PGA Tour event.

In his appearance on the All Access Interview Series, Steve discussed with host Jim Andrews the role sponsorship and events can play in brand storytelling, and shared the progress being made on successfully measuring business outcomes from Zurich’s partnerships. Below are edited highlights of the conversation.


Jim: Zurich has embarked on a brand refresh globally, which includes some key brand storytelling messages. That would seemingly create an opportunity to use some of the events you sponsor—including the Zurich Classic—as a platform for that messaging. The intersection of content management, brand storytelling and sponsorship is very interesting and I’d be curious to know how that you are addressing that.

Steve: I don’t think the concept of sponsorship as just a way to get branding out there exists anymore, at least not in my world. We look at events like the Zurich Classic as a platform to tell a broad story about our brand. The Zurich brand has been around for over 150 years but it’s also an unknown brand to consumers, because we are a B2B company that sells corporate or commercial insurance products and services through a distribution network. We want to elevate the purpose of Zurich, which is “Creating a Brighter Future Together.”

We have built three brand storytelling buckets, sustainability, people and culture, and the future of risk. We use occasions like the Zurich Classic to communicate what we offer under each of those umbrellas. For example, we may bring in speakers to the tournament, as well as use the digital assets we have through the sponsorship.

Jim: Answering the question, “What are we truly getting out of this?” is the aspect of sponsorship that companies and brands struggle with the most. You are tackling that question at Zurich, looking to refine and put discipline behind how you measure ROI from the Zurich Classic, as well as the return from other involvements with sports and trade shows. Can you give us an idea of where you are in that process, and how you are approaching getting the information and the answers you need?

Steve: Events can be expensive ways to reach small audiences, but they are also very impactful because there is no replication of that one-to-one, in-depth conversation. That’s important for insurance, which is a relationship business. We have struggled to

measure that impact effectively. We can look at things like change in NPS scores or the results of a survey about how attendees liked an event, but as a success metric those don’t answer the question of what this did for us from a business perspective.

The objective is to look at the touchpoints we have at events and build that into a larger measurement model of all the engagements we have with our customers and brokers so that we can look holistically over time at the relatable business results and outcomes. In theory, that’s easy. In practice, it’s difficult to connect all those dots.

However, we can use our ticket management system and its integration with Salesforce to start to understand how, for example, does taking someone to a game at Madison Square Garden lead to the business result we want. The more we take the “manualization” out of these processes and build them into systems, the closer we get to answering that question.

We can track any time someone wants to take a broker or customer to a game because they have to go into Salesforce to leverage our tickets to the event. So now we can see not only that a broker went to the game, but they came to the Zurich Classic, they engaged with a recent email marketing campaign, etc. We can see the full spectrum of the engagement we have had with them.

Jim: We have plenty of viewers who are on the other side of the table—the sports and entertainment organizations that are the recipients of sponsorship from brand marketers. When they hear their partners talk about ROI measurement, naturally they might ask if they play a role in helping you connect those dots. Are there expectations, or do you see a role for sponsored rightsholders to play in helping their brand partners evaluate success?

Steve: The PGA Tour has been incredibly creative in helping us deliver brand storytelling. They constantly look for ways to reach new audiences in different ways, for example through partnerships with new media platforms.

One of those that we are very interested in is DraftKings. In conjunction with their partnership with the Tour, they approached us about creating something specifically for our audiences by way of the Zurich Classic. For the brokers and customers we want to reach, it would essentially gamify the experience of following the tournament and of understanding what we are doing. If it were just DraftKings’ consumer platform, we wouldn’t be interested, but a tailor-made offering for the audiences that matter to us, and a much deeper engagement than just seeing a logo, is a really interesting opportunity.