Tracksmith, a performance running brand based in Boston, is using the U.S. Track and Field Trials happening June 18 to 27 as the backdrop for its first television commercial. The commercial will air on NBC June 18 during the network’s live broadcast of the event from Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., which will determine which athletes will represent the U.S. in the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The commercial was written and narrated by Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker and dedicated competitive runner who has worked with Tracksmith on a series of creative projects since 2020. The commercial is intended to celebrate the spirit and history of track and field and drew its inspiration from the 1964 sports film, Tokyo Olympiad by Kon Ichikawa. The spot was directed by Emily Maye and produced by Farm League. It showcases members of Tracksmith’s Amateur Support Program running the last hard pre-race workout: a sub-60-second 400-meter time for the men and a sub-30 second 200 meters for the women.
Tracksmith has 30 athletes competing in the Trials this month that are members of its Amateur Support Program, which champions unsponsored runners in the lead-up to trials and the 2021 competitive season. In total, Tracksmith has supported more than 100 athletes in a range of disciplines including sprints, jumps, throws, middle and long distances. Off the track, they are teachers, PhD students, engineers, security analysts, coaches, artists and parents.
The Amateur Support Program builds on the success of the brand’s OTQ Program for marathoners, in which 20 percent of the field at the U.S. Marathon Trials were supported by Tracksmith. That program is managed by five-time Olympian Nick Willis, the brand’s athlete manager.
“2020 and 2021 have been challenging years for many of these athletes,” said Willis. “They’ve fought to make the qualifying standard while navigating the uncertainty of the pandemic and have inspired us with their commitment to racing at the highest level. We’re proud to support such a wide range of athletes who embody a deep love for the sport and the pursuit of excellence in every aspect of their lives. Personally, working with these athletes has enriched my own training and passion for running. I can’t wait to cheer them on in Eugene.”
Matt Taylor, Tracksmith’s founder and chief executive officer, created the brand in 2014 and it’s found a niche producing performance product inspired by the history of the sport for competitive athletes and weekend warriors.
“It’s been our goal since 2016 to make a major brand statement in Eugene both in terms of athletes on the track and in our storytelling,” Taylor said. “Working with our Amateur Support Program athletes has revealed not only the depth of excellence in our sport, but also the need to champion these athletes, many of whom have been the hardest hit by the impacts of the pandemic and down-sizing in the running industry. We’re proud to have played a small part in their journey to the Trials and look forward to continuing our support of amateur athletes in the future.”