SBD/January 3, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

U.S. Runner Symmonds Parts Ways With Nike, Oregon Track Club

Symmonds said that Nike's offered deal would have barred him from seeking other sponsors
U.S. runner Nick Symmonds in an "eventful two days ... severed a seven-year association with Nike and signed" with Seattle-based apparel maker Brooks Running Company, according to Ken Goe of the Portland OREGONIAN. The change in sponsorship will "force Symmonds to leave the Eugene-based Oregon Track Club, which has been his professional home" since he left Willamette Univ. in '06. The OTC is "comprised entirely of Nike athletes." The "outspoken Symmonds' relationship with Nike has been uneasy in recent years because of Symmonds' criticism of the governing bodies of track & field." Nike is a "strong supporter" of USA Track & Field and the USOC. Symmonds "particularly has been vocal about limitations placed by sanctioning bodies on the ability of track athletes to obtain secondary sponsorship." Symmonds said that Nike "offered him a contract with financial terms ... similar to the one he accepted from Brooks, with one key difference." He said that terms of the Nike deal "would have kept him from pursuing other sponsors." Symmonds said that his Brooks deal is "limited to shoes and apparel" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/3). RUNNER'S WORLD's Peter Gambaccini noted Symmonds "already has relationships with the Idaho-based wellness company Melaleuca and with Hansons Dodge Creative, a marketing firm that won an auction to rent temporary tattoo space on his shoulder." Symmonds said the arrangement with Brooks “opens up an opportunity to go after Garmin or Oakley or something like that.” He added, "I would have come off as a little bit hypocritical if I said that we need to fight for the athlete’s rights to be able to market themselves and operate as independent contractors and then I would go sign a Nike contract that basically completely crippled my ability to do that" (RUNNERSWORLD.com, 1/2).
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