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SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/Forty Under 40
Published November 10, 2003
When Octagon signed Michael Phelps, the young swimmer who has broken numerous world records and is favored to be one of the hot stories, if not the story, of the Athens Olympics, Octagon Olympics director Peter Carlisle immediately started talking to Patrick McGee, the company's marketing guru.
Octagon, naturally, already had been working on the obvious marketing deals for such an athlete, Carlisle said, such as deals with swimwear companies and Olympic sponsors.
"So one of the things Patrick is working out with us is the generation of new opportunities," Carlisle said.
Because Phelps is expected to transcend the sports pages, McGee came up with the idea of going after companies that previously have shied away from sports marketing, Carlisle said.
"There are a handful of companies based in Phelps' particular geographical area [of Baltimore] that are international companies but have not been all that involved in sports marketing," Carlisle said.
McGee came up with the idea to pitch those companies that "this is a hometown hero who is about to become a national hero, and maybe that is enough to jostle these companies into sports marketing," Carlisle said.
"He is very creative," Carlisle said. "He just goes after it. If he has latched on to an idea or an athlete or a company and he is going after it, there is no one in Octagon that I feel more confident will generate that opportunity."
Octagon represents more that 400 athletes in all the major team sports, as well as all the major individual sports. As vice president of athlete marketing worldwide, McGee interfaces with all the agents in all the different sports, as well as sports marketing executives from major corporations like McDonald's and Coca-Cola on a daily basis, trying to work out fits between the agency's stars and corporate America.
Apparel deals and shoe deals are done by the individual agents for the individual sports, McGee said. "Our group has its footprint on everything else," he said.
McGee said he has no such thing as a typical day or week. But in a recent week in the early fall, he:
Talked to a casting agent in London about a potential role for Octagon client Anna Kournikova in an upcoming movie with Matt Damon.
Tried to find out if Octagon tennis client Lleyton Hewitt would be back in the United States in time to open the Nasdaq market on behalf of Microsoft and the new Xbox game featuring Hewitt and other tennis players.
Talked to an executive at Wilson Sporting Goods about new promotional programs that the company is working on for golf and tennis.
Talked to executives at McDonald's regarding an ongoing negotiation for a possible endorsement for some Octagon clients, and relayed the discussion to the players' agents.
John Lewicki, senior director of alliance marketing for McDonald's, recently worked with McGee on a licensing deal for Octagon client Michael Vick to use the quarterback's image to make a toy that will be sold as part of the fast-food chain's children's meals.
McGee spent a lot of time trying to work out a deal that would best fit McDonald's needs, as well as Vick's, Lewicki said. "He understands what we need to get done and our objectives," Lewicki said. "He also represents his clients well."
Lewicki said McGee is interested not just in getting an endorsement fee for an Octagon athlete, but in building a partnership between the athlete and the corporation and making sure the deal provides "the appropriate exposure for the athlete he represents."
David Schwab, Octagon director of strategic marketing and media, said McGee "solves problems. He looks for ways to generate business."
McGee also finds ways to get a lot out of Octagon's star athletes' precious time, Schwab and other Octagon officials said.
One example is when Kournikova sat for a photo shoot for her worldwide best-selling John F. Turner calendar. McGee took the photo shoot and used it for the calendar and posters; a television special entitled "A Date with Anna," which aired on ESPN; photos for the covers of different men's and fashion magazines; and a DVD.
"We started with the calendar and now we have four products," McGee said.