Kelsey Philpott

The Emotion of Sport and Sponsorship

Kelsey Philpott, MBA '11, doesn't want to reinforce stereotypes about Canadians, but yes, he played junior hockey at a point—one glorious year after high school to be exact.

“Then I decided maybe I wasn't going to make the NHL, and I should get my butt in school instead," he said. He chose the University of Manitoba, where he earned degrees in finance and international business.

His original goal was a job on Bay Street, Canada's equivalent to Wall Street. But during his undergrad studies, he started working with a mixed martial arts organization. That experience changed his thinking.

“I had this great education in business and this passion for sports, and I thought, 'what if I could marry the two?'"

When Philpott decided to go to graduate school, he set his sights on the program recommended by colleagues and former professors—the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the UO Lundquist College of Business.

“It had such a great reputation that I couldn't really fathom going anywhere else," he said.

Philpott entered the University of Oregon thinking he would return to the realm of mixed martial arts. But Robert Madrigal's sponsorship class and mentoring from the Warsaw Center's managing director gave him insight into the many sports marketing opportunities available.

“There's something intriguing about tapping into the passion people have for their sports team and finding a way to transfer it to a brand," said Philpott. “Sponsorship is powerful in that sense. You can watch all the commercials you want, but it's not until you connect with that person on a deeper level that you can really get their attention and get them to understand what you're trying to say. That's what I realized, at the Warsaw Center, that there was this whole other industry out there where I could form a great, robust career."

Dennis Howard, the college's former dean and emeritus professor at the Warsaw Center, arranged for Philpott to interview at GMR Marketing. The firm hired him immediately after graduation and a year later, he joined the San Francisco office to work in client management and development. Since that time, Philpott has ascended to the role of account director, responsible for account leadership of Esurance, Google, and the San Francisco 49ers, with a focus on guiding a combined $20 million in marketing assets through sponsorship evaluation, contract negotiation, creative ideation, and cross-agency integration.

“The Warsaw Center helped me see the world differently," Philpott said. “I grew up a little there. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the University of Oregon."