Charlotte LATIN • Spring Semester 2014 Michael Cropper `00
Michael Cropper ’00
Wagner explores London with
her husband, Shane, and with her
sons, Sam and Will ’26, during the
London 2012 Summer Olympic
Spring Semester 2014
by Judy Mayer
Cameron Hall Wagner '90
Nations may negotiate treaties, but international relations are eventually
stories of how one person treats another. When the two are from very
different cultures, the interactions can be challenging, but mutual respect
and patience are often the keys to success.
This wise revelation is not just an important life lesson for Cameron Hall
Wagner ’90, it’s a business necessity that she practices as she travels the globe
“I work for GMR, an engagement marketing company,” Wagner explains.
“We focus on lifestyle marketing through live engagements and hand-tohand interactions with consumers to build brand awareness for our client
In addition to her position as Senior Vice President for Client Management,
Wagner is the General Manager of GMR’s Charlotte Office, which is one
of the agency’s largest. She oversees 12 client relationships and manages a
staff of 50 people who specialize in sports marketing and collegiate events.
“In a perfect world, I have foresight about what’s coming next with our
business and engage in strategic planning for each of our clients, in addition
to handling daily management responsibilities such as staffing to grow the
business,” she says.
“GMR is based in Milwaukee where 500 employees are headquartered.
We have 10 offices worldwide, with Charlotte, San Francisco, and London
being the satellite offices with 50 or more employees,” Wagner states.
GMR’s website asserts, “The team in Charlotte delivers internationallyrecognized work for a variety of clients across the world’s largest stages.” The
Charlotte office grew initially due to Miller Brewing Company’s sponsorship
of NASCAR in the 1990s. GMR’s Milwaukee office orchestrated Miller’s
music and entertainment promotions. Wagner says, “If you walked into a
bar, and there was a band playing, we would be the ones who brought in the
band and made sure that there was a big focus on Miller that night.”
Spring Semester 2014
LIVES WELL LIVED
Left: St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow during a pre-Olympic scouting trip for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Center: Wagner with her mother, former Head of Lower School Claudette Hall, on a day trip to Villefranche sur Mer during the 2013 Cannes Lions
Festival in France. Right: A very cold February at the Kremlin during a scouting trip for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Continued from page 27.
As NASCAR became more important to Miller, the Charlotte office
likewise developed into a key asset for GMR. “Many of the teams
were headquartered here, so it became obvious that you had to be
in Charlotte to have a presence in NASCAR,” Wagner states. “We
started with Miller and quickly had 5-10 clients with NASCAR
sponsorships, so GMR based most of them out of the Charlotte
Wagner’s responsibilities extend beyond NASCAR to professional
and collegiate athletics. “Our sports consulting business grew
organically and our clients who were partnering with NASCAR
were naturally also looking at other professional sports and college
athletics. It happened that a lot of the sports experts GMR hired
were in Charlotte because of NASCAR.”
The Charlotte office’s practice extends beyond sports marketing to
managing projects at college campuses across the nation, such as for
HBO. Wagner loves these creative and often exciting events. “We do
all of HBO’s college marketing, so we go to college campuses that
offer HBO and create events around the network’s programming to
develop awareness and loyalty for the HBO brand and products.
“An example is the ‘Game of Thrones’ promotion that our brand
ambassadors organized. We hosted preview parties on our college
campuses a week before the show aired on HBO so students could
see it. The result was amazing… the venue at NYU was filled to
capacity and the line wrapped around the block. The college kids
Spring Semester 2014
were dressed like the show’s characters and doing viral videos and
posting online to their friends while they stood in line. That’s how
HBO is amplifying what we do for them on the campuses, and we
keep moving to bigger venues.”
Sports marketing projects continue to be a major facet of GMR’s
business. Over the past year alone, the agency’s sports marketing
practice created a strong presence at every major global sporting
event in the world, from the America’s Cup to Super Bowl XLVII
to the Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games, where the agency
represented six of the sponsors. It was GMR’s client relationship
with Proctor & Gamble that propelled Wagner to Russia in
“Proctor & Gamble is a client and we manage their worldwide
Olympic sponsorship,” Wagner explains. “We do the live portion
of their ‘Thank You Moms’ campaign. We actually ran a family
home in Sochi for the athletes’ moms (we did one in London for
the Summer Games as well) and it was a place for them and their
families to come during the Games.”
Wagner is impressed with Proctor & Gamble’s attention to how the
company’s 200 brands serve consumers. She says, “P&G is really
good at figuring out what is a basic need for people and how can
they serve them. It’s how they think about things…they truly want
to improve lives. The house in Sochi offered a salon where moms
could receive beauty treatments from Cover Girl and Pantene and
dads could get a shave…from P&G’s Gillette, of course. They could
also drop off their laundry and it would be washed for them with
Wagner is complimentary of Proctor & Gamble’s corporate
culture in terms of its philanthropic endeavors. Following natural
disasters like hurricanes, for example, Tide sponsors a “Loads of
Hope” mobile station where people can wash and dry their clothes.
The company also helps the mothers of athletes see their sons or
daughters compete in the Games.
goes with them to make sure that everything goes according to the
plan,” she states.
Wagner better appreciates the very personal nature of international
relations after spending two weeks in Russia, where the threat of
terrorist attacks resulted in unbelievably tight security measures
that the authorities had to balance with the Olympic spirit of
“It was a hard place
to do business,” she
states. “As great as the
experience was when we
got there, it was by far
the hardest Olympics we
ever had to prepare for…
we were limited in our
choice of vendors and
the security credentialing
process for our people
was really, really tough.
Access is critical for us to
do what we do. Without
it, we can’t do our jobs.
In addition to managing
the house for the
Olympians' moms, Wagner
and GMR's 50-member
team were responsible for
multiple events and for
assisting the athletes.
“It all comes down to meeting people where they are and managing
expectations. From the moment you step on to the plane to travel
out of the United States, you have to go into it understanding that
they do not do things like you and if you push for them to do it like
you, you are not going to have a good experience,” Wagner believes.
“We discovered that the financial burden was so great that many
families couldn’t go to the Games, or they went into debt to go. So
again, P&G thought this is a place we can help,” Wagner relates.
The loss of her luggage in-route to Moscow tested her resolve to
be flexible, but Wagner persevered. “Once you accept that you are
not dealing with the US Airways counter in Charlotte and they
were not going to track your luggage to give you an instant answer
and they are not going to throw a meal voucher or free trip at you
to compensate for the inconvenience, things are better.” Wagner
traveled with two colleagues, including fellow Latin alumna Jenelle
Williams ’00, who also lost her luggage on the flight.
In addition to managing the house for the Olympians’ moms,
Wagner and GMR’s 50-member team were responsible for multiple
events and for assisting the athletes. “Any time P&G-sponsored
athletes go to an event like a photo shoot, a member of my team
She remembers with a laugh, “We didn’t get our luggage for four
days and I had work to do, so I borrowed clothes from one of the
GMR team members…a six-foot former USC pole vaulter. So I was
dressed like a very hip 24-year-old,” says the petite Wagner.
Continued on page 73.
Spring Semester 2014
LIVES WELL LIVED
Lives Well Lived; continued from page 29.
While she endured problems in-route to Sochi and job-related
inconveniences of one type or another every day of her stay, Wagner
has fond memories of the Russian people. “We stayed in a familyowned hotel and they were so cute and so respectful. Every morning
when we came down they stood up at the front desk to greet us.
After a couple of days we said, ‘No, no, you don’t have to stand
up,’ but they spoke no English and it was literally like a game of
charades for us to communicate with them.
“They tried to Americanize our breakfast by serving oatmeal
and eggs and bacon. Their bacon doesn’t look like ours and the
hardboiled eggs were really soft, but they tried to serve food we
would like even thought it was a leap for them. It showed me that
they had researched and talked to people about what they thought
Americans were like, and they
tried to tailor their hotel to make
us comfortable during our stay.”
Prior to traveling to Sochi, Wagner spent a month in London while
working at the Summer Olympics. “A month was too long to be
away, so I took my family with me: Sam, 4, and Will, 6, who will
be a Latin first grade student this fall. Mom also came for a week
and a half to help and enjoy London.” Wagner’s mom is Claudette
Hall, the former Head of Charlotte Latin’s Lower School.
“You really get caught up in the spirit of the Olympics. It’s so much
work before you get there, but once you arrive you get caught up
in the excitement and the camaraderie among the countries. It was
amazing…everyone is very supportive of one another…it’s just an
amazing environment. The families of the athletes have seen them
work, sometimes their whole lives, and they want to tell you about
it. Everyone has stories and they want to celebrate,” Wagner states.
You really get caught up in the spirit
Wagner also learned to
appreciate the Russian concept
of friendship. “There is this
warmth about Russians once
they trust you. A friend of a
friend in Russia is everything,
and if you have a Russian friend
then all of their friends will do
anything for you. It’s even a
slight on the friendship if they
don’t. So we learned quickly to
separate the complexity that
we had dealt with from the
governmental level and deal with
the people,” she relates.
of the Olympics. Everyone is very
supportive of one another - it s' just
an amazing environment. The families
of the athletes have seen them work,
sometimes their whole lives, and they
want to tell you about it. Everyone has
In May, the GMR team’s work in Sochi
was recognized by industry peers as the
company was named Sports Event and
Experiential Agency of the Year at the
2014 Sports Business Awards ceremony
that was hosted by SportsBusiness Journal.
Wagner is already preparing for the
Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
in 2016, where she will deal with
equally challenging yet very different
circumstances. She looks forward to
meeting new people and hearing their
Wagner attributes many of the best facets
of her own story to Charlotte Latin. “The
foundation was so strong. I didn’t realize
it at the time, but I did as soon as I got to
Appalachian State, and it gave me the confidence to step into some
leadership roles that I wouldn’t have otherwise. This confidence has
shaped where I have gone in my career,” she says.
stories and they want to celebrate.
Wagner advises Americans who travel or conduct business
internationally to do their research as well. She says, “We had
someone from the Ukraine work with us and we spent a lot of time
learning from him how Russians do business and how they think
and feel. He taught us a lot of insights before we left and being
there they really came to life. He also traveled with us. You may not
have the luxury of a guide, but it’s important to talk with someone
from the country you are visiting if you can.”
She and her husband, Shane, who graduated from Myers Park High
School and works as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch, are now
pleased to be Charlotte Latin parents. “I look at my class and most
of us who live in Charlotte are sending our kids to Latin. That’s
how we feel about Latin…we want our kids to have the experience
that we had,” Wagner states enthusiastically.
Spring Semester 2014