SoBA Graduate Derek Duncan Helps Market Team USA for the Olympic Games

Derek Duncan

The Summer Olympic Games are underway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and millions of people around the world are watching with bated breath. Derek Duncan, a 2009 University of Montana marketing graduate, is among those excitedly following the events.

As fans cheer on Team USA as they strive for gold medals, however, Duncan’s focus extends beyond the athletes in the spotlight. As manager of consumer insights and analytics for the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), Duncan also carefully gauges the fans’ reactions.

Duncan’s job with the USOC, which he began in February of this year, is to collaborate with teams across the organization to plan, track and optimize their marketing campaigns.

“Our work spans all Team USA athletes and sports,” he said.

Planning marketing activities for the Olympics is complex and starts years in advance, ramping up as the games draw near.

“Our major push began at the ‘100 Days Out’ mark on April 27,” Duncan said. “Since then, our team worked on Team Trials, the Road to Rio tour in several cities around the country and many other activities with our athletes and sponsors.”

Even though all eyes are on Rio, the USOC is still abuzz at their stateside headquarters.

“There are only a handful of people from the digital and social teams on the ground in Rio to collect and produce content,” he said. “The rest of our team, including me, works from our office in Colorado Springs.”

Duncan and his colleagues are working nonstop now that the games are in full swing.

“All of our social and digital staff works in shifts during the games, providing nearly 24-hour coverage as well as monitoring all of the social and digital activity happening around the games,” he said.

Duncan’s own journey to the U.S. Olympic Committee began at UM.

“I was supported by some amazing faculty in the business school,” Duncan said. “The school and the broader community always had a very entrepreneurial feel to it, which has certainly helped me develop new ways to connect with Team USA fans.

Marketing Professor MaryEllen Campbell, in particular, made a big impact on Duncan in college and helped to guide him to where he is today.

“I took several of her classes, and she always supported me and challenged me to grow,” he said.

“One thing that stood out most about UM and Missoula was the great sense of community,” Duncan recalls. “Both the school and the town were small enough that you could feel included, like you were really a part of whatever happened to be going on.”

The spirit of collaboration, community support and inclusiveness that Duncan experienced at UM now serves him well at the USOC.

“One of the many things that I love about my job is that the USOC has a very clear and strong focus on supporting our athletes,” he said. “No matter what department an employee works in, we all know that we’re here to help them succeed. We get to hear our athletes tell their stories and help them share their journeys with the country.”