Discovery Drives Dreams

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Cook (far left) gathers his college friends for a Drake football game almost every fall. In 2011 he surprised them, driving the group to a game in a bus wrapped in photos from their playing days.

A Drake alumnus combines his passion for sports with an evolving industry.

When Drake alumnus Andy Cook, BN’91, was just three short credit hours away from receiving his M.B.A., he put his studies on hold.

He was burned out, he recalls, and while he enjoyed his master’s courses at Webster University, he needed a break. He found one in a three-month gig driving a truck with a buddy for the U.S. Cycling Team and handing out Coca-Cola and Fresca at races.

Experiential marketing, also known as event or grassroots marketing, was then in its infancy. Larger agencies were starting to brainstorm ways to connect consumers to an experience that would raise brand awareness and move sales. Cook and a few of his buddies grabbed hold of the concept: channel their creative energy into entertainment and sports-related marketing projects. To date, Cook has developed two experiential marketing agencies that have been nationally recognized as the leading agencies in the industry.

“I always knew I wanted to do something that I would love. Sports was a no brainer for me. I played football at Drake, and I loved it, but I didn’t really know anything about working in the industry,” says Cook. “I tried working for a few professional teams after college, but I wasn’t doing anything more than intern work, and I certainly wasn’t making any money. My dream was to find something where I could combine my passion for sports and this evolving business.”

In a span of 10 years, Cook and his friends developed both Momentum and Vivid Marketing, which are today part of multibillion-dollar agencies. Vivid was named the best experiential sports agency in the country by Sports Business Journal in 2010. The company has worked with big name clients, including Pepsi, Sports Illustrated, NASCAR, Mountain Dew, Tropicana, Red Bull, ESPN, and Coors Light.

Cook credits a Drake liberal arts education for helping him discover his creative side and parlay it into a successful career.

“When I think about all my friends that went to Drake, it’s crazy how much the Drake education and discipline really paid off,” says Cook. “There’s a tangible difference between my Drake friends and friends from other universities. Everyone from Drake is really successful—part of start-ups, brokers in Chicago, lawyers, you name it. They are all successful, and that’s because of Drake.”

 

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