Brand Immortality: Legendary Runner Steve Prefontaine

- July 5, 2012

Recon Thursday/Positioning

Hello, I’m Jim Glover, That Branding Guy, for Once a Day Marketing. Today is Recon Thursday and I’m going to take a look at the brand immortality of legendary runner Steve Prefontaine.

If you are not a runner, you may not recognize the name Steve Prefontaine, whose nickname was “Pre.” Steve Prefontaine was one of the greatest  American long-distance runners in history. He attended the University of Oregon and established himself as a runner that led wire to wire. He had stamina beyond anyone else out on the track and was an NCAA champion. He ran in the 1972 Olympics where he fought Lasse Viren for first place in one of the greatest 5,000 meters runs in Olympic history and finished fourth. He died tragically in 1975 in Eugene, Oregon at the age of 24.

Bill Bowerman, track coach at the University of Oregon, created waffle soles for a new kind of running shoe and had Prefontaine run in these shoes to test them. That became the sole that was used in the shoes for a company that eventually became Nike.

Part of what makes Pre’s brand immortal and his running legendary is that many of his records still stand today. At the recent Olympic Trials, Galen Rupp beat his 1972 Olympic Trials record in the 5,000 meter race which stood for 40 years. Because of his ties with Bill Bowerman and the early days of Nike, Nike continues to promote Steve Prefontaine as one of its all time heroes.

The University of Oregon and Eugene/TrackTown USA still promote the great accomplishments he had at Hayward Field, which I have mentioned in earlier blogs, probably the premier track venue in all of the United States.

If you are a runner and you visit Eugene, Oregon I recommend you visit “Pre’s Rock”, a monument to him at the location of his fatal car accident. People seeking inspiration leave medals from races, their bib numbers, notes, sayings and running shoes in homage to this man and I have to admit of all the people out there he’s probably my hero too.

Be sure to join us tomorrow when we wrap up our series on the US Olympic Trials looking at the digital age and how social media impacted the ability to deliver results to interested people all over the world. To discuss an online or face-to-face service engagement and enhance the marketing and branding for your organization, contact James Glover: (505) 501-1330 or I’m Jim Glover, That Branding Guy, for Once a Day Marketing and we’ll see you next time.