76ers CMO Katie O'Reilly on the Team's Lauded Creative Work and Being a Philly Sports Fan

Plus, her favorite athlete, sports film and more

Katie O'Reilly is chief marketing officer of the Philadelphia 76ers, one of the sports industry's most iconic franchises, overseeing brand, creative and marketing solutions, game presentation, social media, digital and video content, marketing events and hospitality, as well as youth, fan and business development, alumni and merchandise departments.

Now in her seventh season with the team, O'Reilly and her team have developed the acclaimed "Welcome to the Moment," "PHILA Unite" and "Spirit of the Champion" advertising, playoff and tribute campaigns, as well as lauded original digital content, social media campaigns, branding efforts and themed jerseys. O'Reilly also spearheaded the creation of the 76ers Legends Walk, commissioned sculptures of past 76ers greats that lives permanently at the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex.

During the 2019-20 NBA season, the 76ers was recognized for a 124-game sellout streak and ranked No. 1 in both overall game attendance and in tickets sold. 

We spoke to Katie for our Time-Out series, where we chat with folks in the sports world about their favorite athletes, teams, sports movies and shows, and their love of sports generally.

Katie, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Proud Philly native! Born, bred and living here today.

Your earliest sports memory.

My childhood best friend (who remains my best friend to this day!) and I secretly stayed up late to listen to Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. I can still hear Harry Kalas making the heartbreaking call, and to this day I will never forgive the Toronto Blue Jays.

Your favorite sports teams.

If you're a true Philadelphian, you're 4-for-4 through and through. Philadelphia fans are the most passionate group around, and we love when our teams show the same heart and commitment that we do. There is no better sports town and I feel lucky to be a part of it every single day—both as a fan and in a position to give back to the fans.

Your favorite athlete.

Allen Iverson. When you grow up in Philly during his reign, there is no need for explanation.

Your favorite sports movies.

I can't be from Philly and not say Rocky. And Rudy is a classic, but the Wolverine in me won't allow it. So it really has to be Love & Basketball—one of the best and totally underrated. He Got Game would be a close second.

A recent project you're proud of.

Our in-house marketing and creative crew has produced amazing work this (very long!) season. Our Classic Edition uniform unveil and our 76ers Crossover: Art Exhibition are some of my favorite things we've done in seven years with the organization.

76ers Classic Edition uniforms

It has also been amazing to see our team so quickly adapt and change, what we are capable of creating and how we can use our voice during these unprecedented times. Over the past four months, we launched a #BrotherlyLove campaign with the other teams in Philly and #PhilaUnited campaign supporting the local frontline efforts to combat Covid-19; we showed our support for the Black Lives Matter movement and just recently unveiled our organization's plan to create real change and fight systemic racism.

This is the city of #BrotherlyLove

We have also had the challenge and opportunity to rethink what we do best with basketball being played out of market and during our traditional offseason. What was born was our Summer 76 campaign, celebrating all the wonderful summer traditions and how 76ers basketball can become a part of those—and it is probably some of my absolute favorite creative we have ever produced.

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

We are always devouring the work that comes out of other teams and industries, using it an inspiration to challenge us and drive us forward. Nike is always leading from the front, and they continue to do so with their #YouCan'tStopUs campaign.

You Can't Stop Us | Nike
What you love about sports generally/what sports can do that nothing else can.

Sport has the power to change the world. We create community and camaraderie, and we do so with unprecedented passion and pride for your teams and your hometown. Sport teaches teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership—so many qualities that can make our world a better place. As professionals in the industry, we have an incredibly powerful platform. And on the local level, it is my job to revive our incredible history, to incite hope for the future and to create a space where our fans can create lifelong memories with their families and friends. How lucky am I?  

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the sports world.

Working on a political campaign, or launching a startup company—just need that one idea!

Clio Sports and Bleacher Report are hosting a virtual B2B thought leadership event, The New Sports Marketing Playbook, on Oct. 28-29. Click here to learn more and to register.

Time-Out is our new interview series where we chat with folks in the sports world about their creative inspirations, their favorite athletes, teams, sports movies and more, and generally what sport means to them. For more about Time-Out, and our Clio Sports program, please contact Shawn Mosby.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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