SMU Alumni Lead A Sports Marketing Stampede

Six Mustangs lead sports marketing efforts in Dallas for hawkeye, a multichannel customer development marketing agency with offices in the United States and abroad. The SMU alumni work with such clients as Gatorade, Gore, Michelob ULTRA, the NCAA and The North Face. They also connect companies in unrelated fields, including financial and technology enterprises, with sports-related marketing opportunities.

SMU alumni working for hawkeye in Dallas are (from left) Kate VanHee ’10, Becca Ellinor ’11, Amanda Dempsey ’02, Brandi Connolly ’03,Whitney Eckert ’07 and Carly Mathews ’06.

“The agency has people from every great university, but our common SMU background on the sports marketing team has added some extra cohesion,” says Amanda Dempsey ’02, managing director of sports and experiential marketing, “and any coach will tell you, that’s the key to reaching your goals.”

Sports marketing is among the fastest-growing, event-related marketing avenues, with an estimated $12.4 billion spent this year, notes Brandi Connolly ’03, director of sports and experiential marketing. “Sports marketing creates unique connections between consumers and brands by leveraging that strong passion most of us have for sports and sporting events,” she says. “By engaging our emotions and lifestyles, sports and experiential marketing creates unique and strong bonds with consumers.”

SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development now offers a major in sports management – one career path for which is sports marketing – to meet the demand for knowledgeable professionals in the rapidly expanding field.

“We think Dallas could be a major market for sports marketing endeavors, just as New York is the center of fashion marketing and L.A. is the epicenter of the entertainment industry,” says Steve Dapper, founder and chairman of hawkeye.

Revving up the pony power for hawkeye’s sports and experiential marketing team are these SMU alumni:

• Amanda Dempsey ’02, managing director, sports and entertainment. She develops strategic integrated platforms that utilize media, sponsorship, athlete/celebrity marketing, promotions and event marketing. Dempsey played soccer for SMU and continues to play and coach, and she avidly supports Dallas’ bid to host the World Cup in 2022.

• Brandi Connolly ’03, director of sports and experiential. Connolly serves on the team that directs business for The North Face and Gatorade and works on new business development. An Oklahoma native, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in communications from SMU and an MBA in sports business from Arizona State University.

• Whitney Eckert ’07, senior account executive. She serves as a senior account executive and manages all facets of The North Face Endurance Challenge series. She also assists with programs for a number of other hawkeye clients. Her passion is golf, and she went to SMU on a Division I golf scholarship. As a Mustang she earned Academic All-Conference honors.

• Carly Mathews ’06, account executive. Matthews plays a crucial role in the planning and execution of experiential programs across such diverse industries as apparel, food and beverage, tourism, business and consumer services and athlete management. In addition to her creative talents and affinity for technology, she is known around the office for her wicked jump shot.

• Kate VanHee ’10, account executive. VanHee joined the company after graduation and has worked on The North Face Endurance Challenge race series. She also worked on a new Expo activation strategy for Gatorade and helped launch their new Endurance athlete specific product, G Series Pro. Whenever possible, she returns to her home state of Colorado to ski.

• Becca Ellinor ’11 , account coordinator. At SMU, Ellinor was a marketing major with minors in Spanish and art history. She played volleyball her first two years at SMU and was the team manager during her junior year. After completing an internship with hawkeye as a senior, she was hired full-time upon graduation.

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