Interview with Tord Nilson, Director at Iconic Agency

By: Adam White, @FOSAdam

Tord Nilson, Director of Iconic Agency

Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Tord Nilson, Director of Iconic Agency. Tord, a two time graduate of Brunel University London where he recieved both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, has almost 10 years of sports marketing experience. A true professional who has seen and done almost aything imaginable when it comes to sports marketing was poignant in his reponses about how to take the next step in the sports business industry. He was truly gracious to offer up his time and insight into what it is like to run your own agency, how enjoyable working in sports is, and why thinking outside of the box can pay huge dividends.

How did your previous positions help you get to where you are today?

Previous to setting up Iconic Agency, I had various roles within the Amer Sports organization in the UK and Scandinavia but I finished in 2014 as Sports Marketing Manager for all brands.

What is the average day like for you as a Director at Iconic Agency? What are the day-to-day challenges of your position?

On a daily basis, depending on where in Europe I am, I will catch up with Julian (the other partner in Iconic Agency) in the morning to see where we are with certain sports brand projects and generally have a catch up about athlete’s progress and competition results.

After that, there is usually a mix of Skype meetings, proposals to be drawn up and catching up with clients or freelancers. We also make sure to take time to see the progress of the athletes online by checking out the latest comments on their social media, seeing any new content that has been publish or generally catching up with them on the phone.

What drew you to being a part of the marketing aspects of sports?

Since I can remember, I’ve been interested in sports and, from my father’s side, marketing. So after I did my first ski season in 2005 I know that I wanted to work in marketing and sports. After University I managed to get a job at Amer Sports looking after the Consumer Marketing for Salomon and Suunto, and from then on I never looked back. Fast forward to the autumn (fall) of 2014, I decided to quit my job and start an agency with former pro skier Julian Ball — it was the best choice of my life.

What is your favorite part about working in the sports industry?

Working with your passion is an envy of many people in the world and it’s something I get to do every single day. I work with world-class athletes and get to experience world-class sports brands and their products.

What are some tips you have for people who are trying to become successful in the sports industry specifically the marketing aspect?

Get yourself ingrained in the industry, meet and have a beer with key influencers in the industry — they will respect people who are genuine rather than just job hunters. Always remember that you will have to work really hard to earn the respect of the veterans of 30 years! There are many of those…!

How important is networking in your eyes?

It is an essential part of my job and the one I enjoy the most. You will end up knowing lots of people that at the time aren’t relevant, but one day, they could come through with a contact that could be your next payday! One thing I have learnt is that you need to look after your sources of work — if someone helps you out, reward that person, it’s worth it in the end!

What is the best career advice you’ve been given so far?

Think outside the box. Whatever it is, there is always a different way of looking at it!

What is one thing you wish you would have known when you were starting out?

To tone down my confidence when working with the veterans — you don’t get anywhere trying to be the “cool” kid.

As far as the business aspect, what makes Iconic stand out from other companies?

At Iconic we pride ourselves on thinking outside the box when working with big brands and as a small agency we have the ability to really put a personal touch on our work and relationships. The other aspect that we pride ourselves on is that we personally have relationships with all our athletes which allows us to have a very transparent and honest relationship with them and any brands that wish to work with them. We’re not after the quick buck — we’re after long lasting relationships that benefits the brands, the athletes and us.

When looking at resumes of potential new hires, what is one thing that you always look for?

Any potential hire has to have the same kind of mentality as myself and Julian — if we can’t sit down and have a coffee together outside of work, then it’s not going to work. It is also essential that they have a genuine interest and love of sports, especially action sports. Iconic was built on the love of action sports and it’s how we bond after work, and during work!

We would like to thank Tord for taking the time to speak with us!