US Olympian Nick Symmonds sells ad space on his shoulder to highlight 'antiquated' brand placement rules

Olympic sportsman Nick Symmonds is offering brands the chance to advertise on his right shoulder to raise awareness of the strict ad placement rules implemented during major sporting events.

The track athlete and two-time Olympian is auctioning off nine inches of ad space on his arm via eBay, and the lucky winner will see their logo, URL or social media handle adorn his shoulder in the form of a temporary tattoo.

The stunt is designed to highlight what Symmonds has described as "antiquated rules" put in place during some major track and field events, including those governed by the International Olympic Committee and the International Association of Athletics Federations, which stipulate that athletes have to tape over all forms of advertising on their person except the logos of their 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," wrote Symmonds in the eBay listing.

Symmonds held a similar auction in 2012 when he sold ad space to marketing agency Hanson Dodge creative for $11,000, but it looks like this auction may clock up more revenue with bids sitting at just under $10,000 with one week to go before the closing bell.

The placement would appear on his arm during the Outdoor Track and Field season, which means the winning brand will enjoy publicity at events such as the the World Challenge Meeting in Beijing, and potentially, the Olympic Games in Rio if Symmonds is selected as member of the US Olympic track and field team come July. He has previously competed in the London and Beijing games.

Potential buyers should note that the runner is selling his right shoulder only; his left is reserved as advertising space for caffeinated gum company, Run Gum.

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

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