5 Minutes with Gina Hagedorn

5 Minutes with Gina Hagedorn

Meet our President, Brand Experiences

We took five minutes with Gina to discuss career highlights, the future of brand activations in a new digital age, and her recent SBJ 40 Under Forty award…

1.) Describe your career in five words or less.

Just say yes.

2.) You have been in this industry for nearly 20 years, beginning at LeadDog as an intern and progressively moving through the ranks to earn the role you have now. During that time, you must have worked on such a rich variety of projects. What are some of your highlights from your career that you are most proud of?

So many amazing memories, but a few stand out in my mind: Oprah Magazine’s 10th Anniversary (my job was to brief Oprah, and I’ll never forget it!), seeing Cycle for Survival from the start with one club raising maybe 100K$ to what it is today with 30 locations and recently hitting $300 million raised for rare cancer research, hearing that our team had “won SXSW” with its Amazon prime video experience, endless days onsite at the Vail Film Festival, to more recently seeing Athlete’s Unlimited come to life, and the incredible new opportunities in front of us with Disney Star Wars at MLB to Jaguar Racing with our UK team to high end hospitality experiences with Cartier to more work with Amazon Prime Video and the NFL. You could say the flood gates have officially opened on the experiential space as the world comes out of Covid restrictions.

3.) In your current role, you lead our Brand Experiences team in North America, working with several major brands to help activate their partnerships. How has the industry, and the concept of brand experiences, changed as your career has progressed?

Likely really dating myself here, but in my first few years of working, part of our recap process was running disposable cameras to the print shop to get event pictures printed post event – or “renting” a blackberry to stay in touch while you traveled (anyone else remember the blinking red light when you had emails?!). It has been really interesting to see the evolution of the experiential space over the years. One of the biggest shifts we have noticed over time is how experiential has become a central part of really any integrated marketing campaign. Years ago, it was typically more of an event activation, somewhat separated from the larger campaign and often even an afterthought. Now it really is a critical part of the overall marketing mix, and seeing it fully integrated from the start, where it always should have been, gets all of us pumped about the future.

4.) Others have noted that you are typically the first to nominate your co-workers for awards. But this year, it was your turn to be recognized by Sports Business Journal. How does it feel to finally get recognition for your own achievements in this Forty Under 40 award win, and what do you hope to accomplish from here?

If I’m being honest, I really dislike the spotlight, but I am also incredibly honored to be recognized. My achievements are my team’s achievements – the work they do each and every day deserves the recognition. I read once that leaders grow leaders – and that’s how I measure my own personal success. Supporting, encouraging and recognizing my team will always be my first priority.

What’s next? I love seeing the authentic connections to fans and consumers that experiences can create – and I love even more that every brand out there is recognizing that purpose has to be woven throughout everything they do. For me, I simply want us to continue doing great work that matters and has real, tangible impact on people and the world (yes the world!)

5.) When not at work, what would we find you doing?

Coaching my kids baseball and softball teams, playing tennis myself, or walking the beach in search of the next piece of perfectly soft sea glass.