WHOSAY supports the fight against Multiple Sclerosis (MS) by being a co-sponsor and participant of the 2018 MS Spring Golf Classic, a cause the media and advertising industry has championed through this tournament for 45 years by donating over $6 million to funds that support over 100 local programs that work in a national effort to rid the world of MS.
We sat with Jordan Bitterman, Chief Marketing Officer, IBM Watson Content & IoT Platform, IBM, and MS Spring Golf Classic Tournament Co-Chair, to learn more about the MS Golf Classic and corporate social responsibility.
WHOSAY: What is the MS Golf Classic?
Jordan Bitterman: We are an annual event that raises money for multiple sclerosis charities. This May, we will be hosting the tournament for the 45th consecutive year. Each year, about 200 golfers from around the advertising, media and marketing technology ecosystem turn out to play. It’s a fun day of networking, feeling the sun for a few hours after a long winter and, of course, playing golf on a truly beautiful course.
WS: What is your role in the MS Golf Classic?
JB: I have been the co-chair of the tournament for the last four years. Prior to that, I had been on the committee working to get foursomes to join us for about 10 years. The makeup of the foursomes that join us has changed a great deal over the years consistent with the evolution of our industry. The gathering used to be largely television networks and print publications. Now, it’s major websites, social media companies and ad-tech firms.
WS: Why is this important to you?
JB: The co-chair of the tournament, Mike Lotito, is a mentor of mine. He was the one who originally recruited me to be on the committee. His mom suffered from MS for many years. I participate as a way of giving back to him, honoring her and helping out an important cause.
WS: Where did the idea for the MS Golf Classic come from?
JB: Since the tournament is the same age that I am, I’m actually not even sure!
WS: Why is it important for companies to participate in social good programs?
JB: We can see it everywhere: companies are stepping up to fill the void left by some of our higher, government institutions. There’s an old expression that I love: “if the people lead, the leaders will follow.” As critical funding for research to non-profit causes dries up, it becomes increasingly important for people and companies to take the lead. It makes me proud that we have so many ad ecosystem companies that join us year-after-year.
WS: How should companies manage their corporate social responsibility in the social media era?
JB: There are companies that do this well. I think there are 3 main guidelines for being socially responsible in this day and age: be present, be authentic, move with speed. First: it’s important to be there for your customers – that means supporting them in what matters most to them. A good example is Lyft giving rides to the March for Our Lives event in Washington. Lyft knew that the topic was important to both themselves and a wide swath of their user base, so they put their money where their mouth is. Second: it’s good to be authentic – that means engaging in activities that match your brand. While it would be wonderful to support every cause, it’s better to focus on the ones that feel true to your brand ideals. Third: move with speed. Life moves pretty fast, so today’s opportunity to pitch in may be gone by tomorrow. If you know your brand, you will be ready to jump on moments of social responsibility when they happen.
WS: What have been some of the highlights from previous MS Spring Gold Classics?
JB: The day is all about networking. Yes, it’s about supporting a cause, but our participants want to spend time with their clients and mix it up with the rest of the industry. As organizers, we’re focused on raising money. So netting about a quarter million dollars each year is our highlight.
Raising over $250k per year
WS: What do you hope to accomplish with this year’s edition?
JB: Continue our string of success. Hopefully, the weather holds out and it’s a win all-around.
WHOSAY, a Viacom company, is proud to support the AMS Spring Golf Classic 2018, held on Monday, May 7 at the prestigious Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. A total of 192 golfers from 48 teams, including WHOSAY’s Rob Gregory, Harvey Schwartz, Andy Sternfeld and Dan Gyves, are competing in 18 holes of golf. GO WHOSAY!