For 120 years, the Ski Club has been bringing people together through a shared passion…
Brand Director for Iconic Agency
This week I am interviewing Tord Nilson whose career is imbedded into Winter Sports & despite being in his 30’s is considered somewhat of an industry veteran. Tord is a member of the SIGB (Ski Industries of Great Britain) board & oversees their marketing activity.
Tord is a keen skier, has worked for some of the largest Winter Sports brands & now runs his own marketing agency, Iconic, which specialises in Winter Sports;
I am Tord Nilson and I’m the Brand Director of Iconic Agency – a boutique sports marketing agency that works with brands and events across Europe and the USA specifically within outdoors sports such as snowsports, running, cycling and other outdoor activities.
I’ve held a number of different jobs in snowsports including lift operator in Colorado and New Zealand, owner of Freeride.co.uk, marketing at Amer Sports and now Brand Director at Iconic Agency.
I love the ski industry, like really f*cking love it. Our job (in the ski industry) is to basically make someone’s already awesome holiday to the mountains even better – I mean, it doesn’t get better than that!
- Are you a Skiier, Snowboarder or just for the Apres?
Haha, many in the ski industry would argue I’m better at the Apres than the skiing…
- Working for Salomon/Atomic is a dream job for many winter enthusiasts, what was it like working within a large winter brand, is it all skiing?
Ah getting the Salomon job (which was my first job out of Uni) was an absolute dream come true. I was unbelievably stoked when my old boss Rich Philip called me to confirm just before Christmas back in 2009.
Looking back, I was super young, nervous and didn’t really know what I was getting into but I had a lot of passion (which I still do to this day) and it was a great group of people to work with who I learnt a huge amount from, especially Rich.
Unfortunately it’s not all skiing – I joined as the Consumer Marketing Executive for Salomon/Suunto (part of the Amer Sports Group) and it was just as trail running was kicking off for Salomon, that ended up being 75% of my job. Later down the line, I became the Marketing Manager for Atomic along with heading up events for all Amer Sports brands. At that point I got a lot of skiing in with the Atomic crew and I’m super lucky to still get a fair bit in!
- For people who don’t work in the ski industry, what’s it actually like?
Well, it’s not as glamourous as you may think! A lot of office based work and watching videos of people skiing!
When out skiing (testing, retailer trips etc) it’s early morning, late nights and a lot of carrying and fitting skis but it’s awesome to be in the mountains and seeing the happiness on people’s faces!
Passion is the number one reason that I’m still in the industry, you’re not going to become a millionaire but you will have a great time and with a smattering of passion anything is possible!
- You are now a board member of the SIGB (Ski Industries of Great Britain), how did that come about?
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but I wanted to learn more about the industry before I committed. After a few chats with key people in the industry and on the committee I was encouraged to join and due to my marketing expertise I took over the realms of the marketing side of things so that Nick Warne (Snowtrax) could take a step back.
I’m super passionate about the industry, it’s a wonderful community of people who love skiing, snowboarding, the mountains and being outdoors – I don’t want that to disappear and it’s really important for the next generation of snowsports professionals to get involved and learn from the veterans.
I’ve stepped into the committee but with eyes and ears open and constantly asking the guys who have been around 25/30 years in the industry to make sure the legacy continues but with young blood injected into it.
- The SIGB can play a large role in interacting with Winter Sports consumers, what will you bring to the table?
I bring an expertise in marketing across retail, brand and non-winter sports businesses. This allows me to bring ideas and thoughts learnt elsewhere along with contacts and skills that in the past SIGB may have had to pay for.
I hope that I also bring support, knowledge and some young blood into the industry.
- The SIGB has been criticized in the past for not doing enough, do you agree or have an opinion on this?
I think SIGB has been misunderstood in the past and perhaps the organisation hasn’t communicated everything that they do.
I had the same thoughts until I got involved and saw that these volunteers (everyone on the committee are volunteers) spend time and effort to push the snowsports industry.
One role within the marketing sub-committee is to create more buzz and ensure that we listen to members to ensure that we provide the support and services that is expected from SIGB.
- How can the SIGB help bring the industry & consumers closer together more going forward?
We’re working on a couple of different ways but at the moment we are creating a full marketing campaign to encourage people to go on ski holidays along with aiming to speak to the government about how they can support ski and snowboard businesses across the UK.
- We’ve Skied many times together on the UK Industry Ski Test, but last year it almost collapsed & a last minute test in Scotland was held. What is the future here for the Ski test & do you see it opening up for consumers too?
The future of the ski test is to continue to be the fantastic event which has been going for many years by Rare Management. I think there is an appetite for consumer tests, however I’m not sure if that should be the same event as the trade one.
Separate events would work however with the current pandemic situation, I think we’re a couple of years from that happening as the focus needs to be on helping the industry in the short term.
- Moving on, you now run your own agency, Iconic, tell us about that?
So Iconic Agency was founded in 2005 and was initially an athlete and brand agency, however from last year we decided to phase out Iconic Athlete Management and focus fully on Iconic Agency – the boutique sports marketing agency.
Our ethos is that we create genuine fans – this means that we work with global, national and local sports brands to ensure that they have a loyal base of customers that will come back for more.
Often we sit as a mix of marketing consultants and an external Marketing Manager – the difference being that the client gets a whole team rather than just one person! This work includes marketing strategy, social media, PR, communication plans, building athlete programmes, creating content, managing events and generally being a marketing point of contact.
We work with a diverse portfolio of brands and events across Europe and USA and our clients have included GoPro, Superfeet, NuroKor, British Cycling Absolute-Snow, Red Bull, Salomon, Snow Lab, Atomic, X Games, Dew Tour and several others!
- You’ve worked with many top Winter athletes & many UK Ski racers including Finlay Mickel Chemmy Allcott, Graham & Martin Bell & more, but what do you think about Graham signing up to Dancing on Ice?
Graham signing up to Dancing on Ice is a brilliant. I’ve had the pleasure of skiing with him a lot as he is an Atomic ambassador and I know that whatever he does, he does it with 110% commitment. He’s incredibly competitive so his goal is to win Dancing on Ice and I think he can go a long way in the competition. I can’t wait to watch it!
- Lastly who’s your favourite Winter athlete of all time?
There’s a couple of answers to this question; Shane McConkey and Mike Douglas (who I’ve had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with a few times) got me into off-piste/backcountry and inspired me to do my first ski season back in 2005.
Marcel Hirscher is the greatest technical skier that I’ve ever seen – the determination and absolute power he puts into each run is phenomenal!