Adam Rippon, an Olympic medalist, Dancing With the Stars champion and master of playgrounds, is the creative and optimistic person 2018 needs. Luckily for Adweek, he stopped by the Creative 100 celebration, presented by Screenvision Media, Tuesday evening at the Cannes Lions festival to chat with Lisa Granatstein, editor and vp of content and events.
Rippon discussed possible brand sponsorships, how he developed an interest in skating (sorry, baseball) and why athletes should stand for causes they believe in.
Adweek: How did you figure out that you had that passion and that talent for figure skating to get you to the Olympics?
Adam Rippon: You know, I think that I always loved working hard and working toward a goal, but skating was the first thing that I had, like, a passion for. I played soccer, and I played tennis, and it just never felt right. I remember I hated playing baseball so much.
What position did you play?
Outfield. That’s where they put somebody who doesn’t like playing baseball, in the outfield. So I was playing outfield, and I remember one morning before I had a baseball game, I asked my mom like, ‘Mom, what do people look like when they faint?’ Because I had this brilliant idea that I would faint in the outfield and that I wouldn’t need to play baseball anymore. And my mom told me that if I fainted, she would kill me. So, I figured playing baseball was the better alternative than dying that day.
What about social media? It’s so easy in three seconds to blow up your career. We’ve seen it happen so many times. Does anyone say ‘maybe take a beat’?
My whole team, all of my agents and my publicist—nobody touches my social media because I’m really quick at it. But I think that because of the success that I had at the Olympics, because I was 28, because it was my first Olympic Games, I had gone through so many ups and downs throughout my own career that I was ready for that moment. I was prepared. I was mature. We all still have growing to do, but I felt like I was at a really good place in my life to have the moment that I had. I knew what would be good to say, what was important to say. I knew where my heart was, and that was what was most important to me.
Why are athletes taking a stand these days? It’s happening more and more. I mean, you’re not the only one.
Before, the only way you would get to know an athlete is if you went to their official website, and it would just give a few stats and basically a little fluff piece that was two minutes about them before the game or during the game or during a competition. But now, you have this incredible opportunity to really get to know who you’re cheering for and what they’re about.
Social media has totally changed the game with how you follow the people that you’re interested in. So everyone is given this platform, and I think as an athlete, you have so many people that look to you and admire you for the hard work that you put in … I felt a responsibility to back it up with what do I stand for, why am I here. When you go to the Olympic Games, you want to represent your country to the best of your ability, but that also means representing yourself to the best of your ability.
You’ve been pretty busy since the Olympics—Dancing With the Stars … What’s harder, skating or dancing?
Well OK, one took my entire life and then one was like four weeks. But you know what? The schedule that I had with Dancing With the Stars made training for the Olympics seem like a luxury. I was on tour with Stars on Ice at the same time and doing Dancing With the Stars so I was sleeping for like two hours. The only thing that got me by was like really good BB cream and some bronzer.
Now, you’re in a space full of marketers. What would be your dream endorsement?
Something that pays a lot of money. So if you got fat pockets: My name is Adam Rippon. I was a bronze medalist at the 2018 Olympics, and I tanned myself on the way here from L.A.