Jesse Williams, Brooks Sports Marketing Manager, RBR's Seven Questions, by Larry Eder

Jesse Williams, Brooks Sports, Marketing Manager, in a pensive mood, 
photo courtesy of Brooks Sports

We sent the questions out to several of the sports marketing managers at various brands. Jesse Williams, who oversees the Brooks Running initiatives, from the Brooks Hanson Original Distance Project to the Brooks PR Invitational.

We wanted to see how he sees the sport, and perhaps, how he would approach the challenges we have in our sport.....

RBR, # 1. For Brooks, how important is your support of grass roots running and track & field?

Jesse Williams: Grass roots support of running and track & field are very important to Brooks.  We get so much inspiration and energy from these youth events.  We are the "Run Happy" brand and I think youth and high school events are chalk full of those moments.

RBR, # 2. How did you view Brooks's sponsorship of athletes in the Olympic Trials?

Jesse Williams: We had fun cheering for our athletes in Eugene.  The weather wasn't the best, but once we had an athlete on the track is just felt good to know that our support gave them an opportunity to be there and be at their best on that day.  For a track fan, it's probably the two best weeks of track you'll ever see in the U.S. and our whole group had a blast.

RBR, # 3. How did you view Brooks's sponsorship of athletes in Olympics?

Jesse Williams: We had a few athletes qualify for London and that alone was very cool for Brooks.  Obviously, it was a great meet for the U.S. distance squad and even though Brooks didn't have an athlete medal, I hope that our support helped make each event field more competitive than in the past.

RBR, # 4. What goes into your decisions on sponsoring athletes?

Jesse Williams: Since we are a small company we really try to find athletes who share our energy for the sport and feel as indebted to Brooks as we feel to them for representing our company.  We want athletes who are excited to run for Brooks and not just looking for any sponsor they can find.  To date, I would say (and hope) that most of our athletes fit this description and also feel a part of the company. 

RBR, # 5. What goes into your decisions on sponsoring events?

Jesse Williams: Really, this is the same answer as how we choose athletes.  We look for events that fit our company's values.

RBR, # 6. If you could tell non footwear marketers anything about 

our sport, why should they consider running and track & field?

Jesse Williams:  I would tell them that high school track and field has the highest participation of any high school sport.  Most of the consumers that marketers are trying to talk to have been on a track team at some point and probably still have some interest in the sport.  There is a reason why track is one of the most watched sports each summer Olympics.  Who can run the fastest, throw the farthest, jump the highest or longest......are all very basic and understandable feats.  That's what makes each athlete's accomplishments so astonishing and interesting.

RBR, # 7. What is the biggest mistake we make in marketing our sport?

       It's probably not the marketing as much as it is how confusing we have made the sport to follow.  Imagine if the NBA sent 16 teams to the playoffs each year and the teams that won each series didn't necessarily advance because of something that happened during the season.  What's the point?  Why would we watch?  Welcome to our Olympic trials.  We also have track meets each year that separate the best athletes and run them in the same event but in different heats.  Most meets are set up for coaches and athletes right now.  That is probably our biggest issue and hardest to solve.


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