U.S. Olympian and 800m world championship silver medallist Nick Symmonds, 32, continues to defy traditional advertising strategies in athletics. The six-time national 800m outdoor champion is auctioning off a 22-cm block of space on his right shoulder during the summer track circuit through eBay, an e-commerce platform.
The offer, which was posted on April 25, so far has 67 bids as of April 26 at 10 a.m. EDT. The highest bid is US$5,100 and the bidding price began at US$0.99.
Symmonds describes the advertising opportunity on eBay by stating, “the winner of this auction is free to use the nine square inches of advertising space how they choose, but the advertisement must take the form of a logo, website URL, and/or social media username.”
The advertisement will be in the form of a temporary tattoo, which will be visible on his right shoulder since track and field athletes wear shoulder-exposing singlets (like the one pictured above). His left shoulder is off-limits as the space is already reserved for Run Gum, a caffeinated gum company Symmonds co-founded.
Symmonds pulled an identical move in 2012 ahead of the London Olympics. Marketing agency Hanson Dodge Creative had the highest bid and won the rights to advertise on the athlete’s shoulder for US$11,100.
A number of athletes have supported Symmonds’ recent venture including American runners Ben True and Casimir Loxsom as well as Olympic and world long jump champion Greg Rutherford. True tweeted that he bid US$5,000, which is no longer the highest bid.
— Ben True (@bentrue) April 26, 2016
The eBay post has also garnered the attention of well-known sportswriter Darren Rovell, who tweeted out the following:
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 25, 2016
In 2015, he was left off the U.S. world team for disputing the requirement that athletes were to wear Nike gear regardless of individual endorsements and sponsorship deals. He was the national champion in the 800m and was the defending world silver medallist in the event but was omitted from team selection.
Symmonds is a Brooks-sponsored athlete.
The International Olympic Committee has a rule in place, named Rule 40, that prohibits an athletes’ personal sponsor from launching an advertising campaign during the Olympics if they are not an official sponsor of the Games.
According to the 32-year-old, “due to antiquated rules, during all IAAF, USOC, and IOC governed competitions, I will be forced to tape over all forms of advertising on my body except the logos of my apparel and equipment manufacturers. Though these absurd rules certainly diminish an investment in an athlete, please know that I will put in extra effort to ensure that the winner of this auction realizes a fantastic return on investment.”
Symmonds made the 2008 and 2012 Olympics but has yet to qualify for Rio. The U.S. trials, which will determine the Olympic team, take place in Eugene, Ore. July 1-4.
Below is the Boise, Idaho native’s summer track schedule:
May 14: Shanghai Diamond League – 800m
May 18: World Challenge Meeting (Beijing) – 800m
June 12: Portland Track Festival (Portland, Ore.) – 1,500m
June 18: Brooks Running PR Invite (Seattle) – 600m
July 1-4: U.S. Olympic Trials (Eugene, Ore.) – 800m
Aug 12-15: 2016 Olympic Games (Rio de Janiero) – 800m
The auction closes on May 4, ahead of his anticipated season opener in China.