While it may be a relative latecomer to sponsorship, Liberty Mutual Insurance is wasting no time making up lost ground.

The country’s third-largest property/casualty insurer recently announced two major sponsorships: The U.S. Olympic Committee and 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The deals add to a portfolio that includes National Governing Bodies (USA Hockey, USA Wrestling, etc.); golf (Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf PGA Champions Tour event, etc.), Public Broadcasting (American Experience and Antiques Roadshow) and pro sports teams and community festivals located near its Boston headquarters (Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, etc.).

IEG SR spoke with Paul Alexander, senior vice president of communications, on Liberty Mutual’s new global sponsorship platform, how it uses sponsorship to engage employees, the growing importance of measurement and other topics.

Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.

IEG SR: Liberty Mutual in 2013 will replace Allstate as the official property, casualty and life insurance partner of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Tell me about that.

Alexander: When you look at our brand advertising or online presence, you see that responsibility and doing the right thing is the foundation of our corporate brand positioning. We think the sponsorship is a great fit with that positioning.

When I look at sports and sports properties, very few mesh as well with our core principals as the USOC. That was the driving piece.

When I received a call from Lisa Baird (USOC CMO), it was a pretty easy discussion to have with our business unit leaders on how a partnership can build the brand with scale. It was a perfect partnership for us because the values of the U.S. Olympic Committee and Team USA are so in synch with our brand positioning.

IEG SR: The property and casualty insurance industry is extremely competitive. How will the USOC give Liberty Mutual a point of differentiation?

Alexander: The strength of the relationship is with our employees. It will be a great way to build employee engagement and excitement. We plan to activate the sponsorship through recruiting initiatives and by bringing athletes to our offices. That will be a fantastic way to reinforce our positioning and core values.

Winning in the workplace is important, but winning in the marketplace is important as well. We believe the partnership will help elevate the brand, and the combination of the two will be strong.

IEG SRAny other drivers behind the sponsorship?

Alexander: We plan to use the sponsorship to provide insurance—either personal or commercial—to athletes, the USOC and other sponsors and partners. That’s another avenue where we hope to bear some fruit.

IEG SR: Liberty Mutual also has come on board as a sponsor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. What’s the thinking behind that sponsorship?

Alexander: South America is our largest international region, and Brazil is one of our largest international offices. When you combine those two—our large business in Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Columbia and the 2014 FIFA World Cup being based in Brazil—the sponsorship made tremendous sense to us.

A number of companies are trying to find ways to build their brands with scale. It’s the antithesis of what we do with social media. There are lots of great ideas in the social media space, but they tend to be microbursts. The Olympics and FIFA World Cup are unique opportunities, and they’re also scalable opportunities.

The challenge is to make sure you have home runs in addition to singles, doubles and triples that are part of your marketing mix.

IEG SRHow will you measure success?

Alexander: We’re fairly new to this large sponsorship area, but we’re working hard to make sure we have the right types of measurement in place so that we can see and determine the impact.

Some of the measurements we use include employee engagement surveys. We do annual surveys to track employee engagement, and we’ll use the surveys to measure the impact of the Olympic sponsorship. We’re also track the amount of business we gain from athletes, sponsors and other stakeholders.

From a branding standpoint, we’ll measure consideration, favorability, product knowledge and the other standard metrics.  The trick is isolating the impact of the sponsorship from other marketing activity.

IEG SRWhere do you see the sponsorship industry going?

Alexander: We’re new to this, and while I can’t say where it’s going, I think every brand is thinking how they can drive points of parity and points of difference. Sponsorship is another part of the marketing mix that can do either.

David Long, my boss and CEO of Liberty Mutual, is very open to sponsorship and other new opportunities that can help elevate the brand the build the business. Sponsorship is playing a larger role, and if successful, it will continue to play a large role.

That’s why measurement is so key. We want to demonstrate that what we’re doing is more than being just cool and exciting. It needs to build our brand, our business and employee engagement.