Since a week before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, a Charlotte sports marketer has been playing a behind-the-scenes role in a little-known but critical area of the Olympics — sponsors and brand management.
Brittany Philip is an account coordinator for GMR Marketing, an experiential marketing agencv based in New Berlin, Wis., with an office of more than 60 employees in Charlotte. The agency’s clients include Procter & Gamble, EY, Nike, GE, and Visa. The field of experiential marketing includes the management of hospitality, event, and location experiences for a company’s clients, employees, or partners.
Philip has been preparing for the Rio Olympics for more than a year.
“There is so much that goes into it,” Philip said in recent interview outside the headquarters hotel for P&G and GMR, the Royal Tulip, near São Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro. Rio 2016 is Philip’s first Olympic assignment. “Before we got on the ground in Rio our team took a look and said, ‘We need to understand what everybody does here; we should know everything about the athletes.’ Our main focus is athlete appearances in the family home and capturing content.”
The family home is a home away from home for Olympic athletes and their families. The center includes a salon with beauty and grooming treatments, laundry services, meals, and beverages. All are supported by P&G consumer brands. The center also manages athlete appearances, and provides special support for the mothers of athletes.
Philip’s main responsibility is rights activation and approvals for the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. Working with P&G, she ensures that material distributed by media in connection with the program complies with Olympic guidelines. Her world is filled with tiny but important details, fine print, and legalistic minutiae. In Rio, her day generally starts at 8 a.m., and finishes at 11 p.m.
“Our work shines a really awesome light on the Olympics,” Philip said, “especially for the athlete stories because P&G does the ‘Raising an Olympian’ films and ‘Thank You Mom’ programs. So it is really cool to watch from that standpoint and shed a light on all of the hard work the athletes, and the families of the athletes, do.”
Philip graduated from Queens University of Charlotte in 2012 with a degree in sports communication and marketing. She served as a lacrosse team captain in her junior and senior years, and was named to several All-American, conference, and regional teams. She also played high school lacrosse in Corning, N.Y.
Before joining GMR, Philip worked as a lacrosse coach, at a fashion marketing agency, and with Major League Lacrosse and local soccer affiliates in Charlotte.
Philip attributes her ability to collaborate well with others and work successfully in Olympic-level groups to her experiences and studies at Queens University of Charlotte. She said she learned that when you are part of a team you work together, no matter what. Creating relationships, building a portfolio, and the ability to network are all important skills, no matter the profession, she said.
The grind of a sports marketing professional at the Olympics is one of late nights and early mornings which, just as with athletes, requires extensive training and preparation. However, their commitment and discipline, the relationships they build and the stories they tell deserve a medal in itself. Philip has just begun her Olympic career at GMR and hopes to continue to see her work help in the brand-building of companies and organizations for many years to come.
Queens in Rio student journalists Alex Bruder, Ashley Osiecki and Kelsey McCormick interview Brittany Philip of GMR Marketing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Aug. 18, 2016.