Article by Luke Carberry Mogan | esPResso Staff Writer
Nick Symmonds has one of the loudest voices in the world of professional track and field, a sport that is not typically popular with mainstream sports media.
Symmonds has won seven NCAA DIII individual titles in the 800-meter and 1500-meter runs for Willamette University. He represented the United States in two Olympic Games and other international competitions and ranked second-fastest in the world for the 800-meter in 2013, according to Symmonds’ website. But it is not only his level of performance that makes this runner stand out. Symmonds employs various and even unconventional promotional strategies to develop his personal brand outside of the track.
Symmonds’ reveals aspects of his personal life and his promotional campaigns in his book “Life Outside the Oval Office: The Track Less Traveled.” Hanson Dodge Creative handles most of the promotions for the young athlete, while he also works with a publicist for more atypical approaches. In his book, he states it is more truthful to tell people he is “in advertising” when disclosing his profession.
His partnership with Hanson Dodge developed after Symmonds auctioned a space on his arm on eBay to promote a business during his race. Much to the dismay of the governing bodies of U.S. Track and Field, the inventive entrepreneur applied a temporary tattoo of the Hanson Dodge Twitter handle to his arm to promote the sponsorship during the race.
Symmonds also has supported various non-profit causes, such as the NOH8 campaign. After winning silver in the 800 meters at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia, Symmonds spoke out against Russia’s anti-gay laws. Subsequently the runner participated in a photo shoot for the equal rights campaign. Symmonds also has done work for other companies, such as PETA, where he spoke out against animal testing. Symmonds has used these good causes to get his name known outside of his track and field career.
In his most recent act of self-promotion, Symmonds revealed he competed on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” challenge. Symmonds will began competing on March 13, and the episode will air this summer. Symmonds not only used his personal Twitter account but his running supplement Run Gum’s account to build suspense for the announcement, later making the news public through several other forms of social media. Symmonds tends to gravitate toward social media, and it has played a key role in his promotional tactics.
He also has wanted to promote himself through national television for some time now, bidding as a candidate for ABC’s “The Bachelor” in 2013. Dubbed the “Brad Pitt of Track” by his publicist Hal Lifson, Symmonds told Sporting News, “The Bachelor ship has sailed… [“Ninja Warrior”] is definitely more of my cup of tea.”
Lifson said to the Los Angeles Times that, “[His] job is to do one thing: to increase the visibility for track and field athletes and [his] clients.”
Symmonds’ self-promotion shows that sometimes a person’s biggest advocate is himself. By strategically using social media and other promotional techniques, Symmonds has created his own personal brand outside of his success in track and field.
Learn more about Symmonds and his accomplishments here.