When it comes to sponsorship, Monster Beverage Co. aligns with motorsports, action sports and other types of properties and talent that support it’s “go big” brand positioning.

The company’s portfolio includes the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, an FIM World Championship; Monster Energy Dub Show Tour presented by Ford; and the Vans Warped Tour. It also has endorsement deals with action sports and motorsports personalities.

(For more details, see “Energy Drink Sponsorships Still Fueling Targeted Properties”)

IEG SR recently spoke with Vipe Desai, Monster’s director of action sports, events and partnerships marketing, about the energy drink marketplace, measuring success, new deals and more. Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.

IEG SR: Just about every energy drink brand is involved in sponsorship. How does Monster stand out in this crowded sandbox?

Desai: From an outside perspective it could look complicated, with Monster, Rock Star, Red Bull and others in the mix. We are involved in action sports and motorsports similar to other energy brands.

But for us, it comes down to the personalities. It’s all about aligning with the right athletes and events. Those are the differentiators.

That is what separates us from the others. We want athletes that represent that Monster DNA: going big, not letting anyone get the best of you, and charging ahead all out.

We look for athletes like Ken Block, the founder of DC Shoes. He got into rally car racing and his gymkhana video gained 23 million views. It sparked an entire apparel line with our branding and logo, and it became one of the top selling items at Pacific Sunwear.

IEG SR: How does Monster measure ROI?

Desai: I think companies that operate like commodities and operate on pricing are looking for ROI. ‘What can we do to help us sell X?’ That is the wrong way of going into any sponsorship.

We are a brand first. As a brand, we have to ask ourselves what sort of experience we need to build consumer acceptance. For us, measurement is all about return on involvement. How involved are we, and how involved will consumers be with our product?

It’s all about return on emotional involvement. When it comes to Monster Energy Supercross, fans have an emotional attachment with our brand. They know we are here for them.

Some brands look for some sort of silver bullet formula for ROI. For me, it does not exist. You have to know what you are doing, and the people you hire have to buy into it as well.

IEG SR: Can you discuss your new partnership with pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek and anything else that’s new?

Desai: We enjoy working with athletes, and they are some of the most creative people we work with.

We have an association with skateboarder and TV personality Rob Dyrdek, who has his own show on MTV. He is an entrepreneur, and he has come up with a new skateboard property called Street League, which will hit three arenas this summer.

Street League will be one of our marquee properties. Dyrdek is like the Richard Branson of the action sports world. It’s an idea he has been working on for a few years, and we started talking last year.

We also were a first-time sponsor of last December’s Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau surfing event in Hawaii. That was a unique and amazing event.

It’s entrenched in the memory of Eddie Aikau, who is an iconic figure in Hawaii. Quicksilver created the event 25 years ago to keep Eddie’s memory alive.

It’s a big wave event that takes place the first Thursday of every December. It doesn’t happen until the waves get to 25 feet for at least 12 to 15 hours. Last year they had the biggest swell in 40 years, and all eyes were on the event from a global perspective. The event’s Web site drew 1.8 million unique page views on the day of the event.

IEG SR: You mentioned the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. Can you talk more about that relationship?

Desai: Supercross is our flagship success story; it has been great for us. Our brand DNA matches the demographics of Supercross fans, and the folks at Feld Entertainment are great partners.

Lots of things have lined up to make the experience a success for us and everyone that comes to a Supercross event. When you look at the grand scheme of motorsports, Supercross is much more affordable than other sports, and it provides great reach to a key demographic.

IEG SR: How do you activate Supercross?

Desai: We set up a two-story hospitality area in the pits where consumers can check out riders and mechanics working on their bikes. We invite fans to come in, sample our product and soak up the Monster vibe.

We have autograph signing sessions featuring racers, as well as non-competing athletes from other sports. Fans can come down and see supercross star Ryan Villopoto and Bobby Martinez, one of the top ten pro surfers in the world. We try to cross-pollinate athletes as much as possible.

We also have the Monster Energy Girls, which has become a real exciting property for us. We integrate them into hospitality and the fan experience in the pits, and we use the girls on the track as well. They hold up signs signaling 30 seconds to the start of the race. That’s been an exciting fan favorite.

When we go into a sponsorship, we approach it from a fan perspective. We are fans first. We asked ourselves ‘What would get us excited?’ That experience starts from the beginning of the event, from accessing pits, having experiences with athletes and interacting with Monster Energy Girls. We try to bring a full show experience with our brand and everything else we can.