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ESPN Out of Touch with Action Sports

Friday, May 9th, 2008

quiksilver x logoThe much publicized decision made by ESPN to file a lawsuit against Quiksilver over the letter ‘X‘ (silly, isn’t it?) is a decision that will continue to find ESPN and the X-Games painted into a corner all by themselves when it comes to the action sports industry.

In short, the lawsuit basically states that Quiksilver uses a stylized “X” emblem on clothing, labels and accessories that is “confusingly similar” to ESPN’s logo for the series of surfing and biking contests.

Aside from the fact that the basis of this lawsuit appears to be petty and childish, picking a fight with one of the biggest brands in all of action sports isn’t going to do anything beneficial for the continually sagging ratings of the X-Games. For most of us, Quiksilver is a brand that is near and dear to our hearts and one that we would side with over ESPN in a heartbeat.

It has been a gradual decline for the X-Games, but ESPN seems intent on speeding up the process of seeing the games go by the wayside altogether. We just witnessed how well the ‘let’s drop Vert, the event that put us on the map and gave us our signature moment’ decision went over with the masses. Hint: the decision was quickly reversed. They are even going as far as to infuse Hollywood actors into the games and having them judge sports that they know absolutely nothing about.

The thought process being used by the decision-makers at ESPN and X-Games over the last few years is highly questionable. With the direction they’ve taken it’s hard to know what their intentions for the future are. Surely these aren’t the types of decisions made by people who are at all in touch with what makes their fan-base tick.

x-gamesquiksilver

Posted in Brands, Industry | 10 Comments »

Komunity Project Adds Roy Powers To Already Stacked Team

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

roy powersI’m not sure if anyone has noticed….But Komunity Project is quietly putting together one of the most deeply talented teams in all of surfing. They just added another ASP Top 45 surfer, Kauai’s Roy Powers, to their list of rock-star surfers and this only bodes well for the continuing growth and exposure of Komunity Project. Adding Powers to a line-up that already includes two of the best young surfers in the world in Jeremy Flores and Dane Reynolds ensures KP with plenty of arsenal for years to come.

If there were ever any doubt that Kelly Slater’s brilliance, innovation, and fluidity in the water would transfer over to his business sense, he is quickly putting that to rest. I’ve watched this company closely over the past several months and have come away impressed with everything Komunity Project is about. Their product designs on their traction pads, leashes, and surf bags are distinct and easily recognizable. This was has been especially evident while watching Kelly on the way to wins in the first two events of the 2008 WCT. Dane, Jeremy, Roy, the Gudauskas brothers, and many more of surfings young stars will continue to put Komunity all over the map and surf-shops everywhere will be flooded with grommets wanting to use the same equipment they see their idols ride.

komunity projectroy powers

Posted in Brands, Surfing | 8 Comments »

O.P. What Have You Become?

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

opOur friends at ASR recently posted an article on the direction of the new Op marketing campaign. I had a hard time believing that their advertising headliners were Wilmer “Fez” Valderrama from That 70’s Show, and reality-celeb Kristin Cavallari from MTV’s Laguna Beach. The video on the home page of their site confirmed it was true, as well as introduced to me the rest of the Op “team” that includes Cristina Milian and Rumer Willis among others.

Being a child of the early ’80s, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Op. They were one of the original cool surf-brands, but apparently along the way they decided to take a turn in a whole other direction. They pride themselves on being the “Original California Lifestyle Brand Since 1972.” With the direction they have moved they appear to be going after a very different lifestyle. One thing’s for certain, it’s not the surfing lifestyle.

If they ever do decide to resurrect the brand to what it once was, there is going to be some explaining to do.

Posted in Brands, Surfing | 7 Comments »

Hurley Phantom Boardshort: Over-Priced or Worth Every Penny?

Monday, April 28th, 2008

hurley phantom boardshortCall me old fashioned, call me cheap……but so far, I’ve been unable to bring myself to fathom the idea of dropping $85 on a pair of boardshorts. Hell, even the standard $50 is pricey. At least to this point, that’s been my prevailing thought ever since Hurley came out with their Hurley Advantage Phantom Boardshort. Yet the more I hear about them from those who’ve paid such a hefty price for boardies, I find myself starting to at least consider the thought of plunking down 85 big ones.

I never dreamed of seeing a day when the price for trunks would creep toward the century mark. I’d seen advertisements for the Phantoms, but it wasn’t until my recent cruise through a surf shop in Hawaii that I laid eyes on Hurley’s asking price. I honestly had a hard time believing that was the cost and asked the store manager if that price was for real. He confirmed that it was, and assured me they were worth every penny. The material used for the Phantoms is said to be revolutionary and the direction that boardshorts will be heading. The selling points are that they are ultra-thin, flexible, and dry out very quickly.

So here I am, conflicted as the warming temps and water remind me that it’s time to pick-up a couple pairs of boardshorts for the upcoming summer season. Are the Phantoms all they’re cracked up to be, or is this just another sign of the times and a serious case of overpricing?

hurley

Posted in Brands, Surfing | 13 Comments »

Local Motion Feeling the Pinch from the Big Guys

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

As many of the bigger brands such as Quiksilver, Billabong, Hurley, and others move toward the direction of opening up their own stores, it has been interesting to see the toll that this is taken on many of the smaller retailers.

Yesterday I had the chance to see and learn firsthand how difficult this is making it for the local action-sports brands and their retail stores here in Hawaii when I spoke with a Local Motion store manager in Hawaii Kai, Oahu. He spoke specifically of the struggle to keep up with the ‘big boys’ now that they aren’t carrying much of their product anymore. It is impossible to match their advertising dollars and it has really left them in a tough position. This store in particular is one I have been coming to for years now and I had never seen it so dead and with such a limited selection.

The store-manger indicated that they weren’t the only ones feeling the pinch as the larger brands move in this direction. He didn’t really seem to have much of an answer as to how Local Motion was planning to keep up, only saying that as Quiksilver and others are continually re-inventing themselves with fresh new approaches the little-guys are being forced to fend for themselves. What’s a little guy to do is these situations?

local motion

Posted in Brands | No Comments »

Wahoo’s Fish Taco Living the Dream at Sandy Beach

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Brilliant. That is literally the only word that came to my mind after seeing that Wahoo’s Fish Taco recently signed a five-year contract with the city of Honolulu, HI. to serve its surf-inspired Mexican food from a lunch wagon at the famous Sandy Beach on O’ahu.

The mobile operation of the franchised restaurant chain will park every day in the parking lot of Sandy’s starting today. “This is like our second home,” said Noel Pietsch, a partner in the local Wahoo’s franchise. “A huge part of the plan was to be right at the beach.”

They could not have picked a better beach to do this at. Sandy Beach is famous for it’s bone-crushing shorebreak, but the spectacular beach has a little bit to offer for everyone (especially those hoping to see unsuspecting tourists getting pitched like it was going out of style.) Wahoo’s will not only have steady business from locals, but will also be serving an enormous amount of visitors, who will in turn be able to share their Wahoo’s opinion with those visiting from the mainland, as well as all over the world. Being located right in the path of other famous Oahu tourist attractions like Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park will provide plenty of customers for Wahoo’s. Tour busses regularly make stops at Sandy’s and Wahoo’s is sure to be a benefactor of the huge loads of hungry haoles that pass through on any given day.

If you haven’t heard of Wahoo’s, it was started in 1988 by three brothers in Costa Mesa, Calif. The chain has about 50 restaurants in California, Colorado, Texas and Hawai’i. Their fish taco’s are out of this world, and the rest of their menu is right up there. If this move by Wahoo’s isn’t an example of ‘living the dream,’ I don’t know what is.

Posted in Brands | No Comments »

X-Games Changes Mind, Keeps Vert Comp

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

x games logoThe X-Games have decided to keep the skateboarding vert competitions around for at least one more summer. What was a widely criticized decision, ESPN had originally announced they were killing off the vert skate events from the Summer X-Games and that prompted me to write that they’ve officially jumped the shark.

While I still think the X-Games have been on a decline, it’s pretty refreshing that they have listened to their audience and changed their minds. They had a poll up on their site asking if the decision to drop the vert event was a good idea. The people spoke and 80% said it was a bad decision. I can’t help but think this decision to reinstate the vert comps was also influenced by the athletes of the games.

Even tough ESPN went back on their original decision, it says a lot about them to drop this event in the first place. I think it’s pretty obvious at this point where their intentions lie and they’re willing to sell us out in a second for the almighty dollar. I guess that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, afterall they’re owned by ABC and we both know ABC doesn’t care about much besides their bottom-line.

x-games

Posted in Brands, Skateboarding | 1 Comment »

Mick Fanning re-signs with Reef

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

mick fanning reef sandalReef has announced that they have come to terms with current world champion Mick Fanning on a new 5 year deal. Mick’s partnership with Reef dates all the way back to 1995. Since then, he has established himself as one of Reef’s elite footwear team riders, along with the likes of Rob Machado and Sofia Mulanovich.

“I’m so stoked to continue my relationship with Reef, they have been my longest sponsor along with DHD. I have been wearing Reef shoes and sandals for as long as I can remember. The people who work there are like family which makes the partnership that much easier.”

Mick’s journey to the top has been a long, arduous trek. Reef has seen him progress through National titles, Pro Junior series, and the grueling WQS on his way to winning the ASP title last year. Mick is as hard a worker and as dedicated a surfer as you’ll see on the tour. Reef has to be especially stoked on this deal, seeing that Mick’s consistency will almost undoubtedly keep him at or near the top of the standings in every one of those five years. Congratulations, once again, Mick Fanning.

mick fanningreef

Posted in Brands, Surfing | 1 Comment »

Have the X-Games Jumped the Shark?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

x games logoRuben’s post about the X-Games killing vert skateboarding today really caught my attention. Why? Simply because I associate much of the Summer X-Games with vert skateboarding and I think this is a huge mistake by ESPN. Just about every time I’ve watched the games on TV, they’ve almost always had vert skate on. And I enjoyed watching it, even though the only time I ever tried dropping in on a vert ramp I ate shit.

Some of my best Summer X memories consist of vert highlights, most notably Tony’s 900 that none of us will soon forget. I can’t help but think I’m not alone with my Summer X/vert connection. I’m willing to bet a large number of people who either are or aren’t heavily involved in action sports see it as their signature sport.

I’m sure ESPN has good reasons for making this move, financial being the top. But I can’t help but think this rubs many of us the wrong way and is (in my opinion) a huge slap in the face to athletes like Tony Hawk. Because of old media decisions like this, the games have slowly been getting worse over the years and now they’ve just completely jumped the shark.

x-games

Posted in Brands, Skateboarding | 5 Comments »

O’Neill Going Back to Basics with SuperFreak/RuOne?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

o’neill superfreak ruoneAs many do in their high-school years, a couple of my best friends and myself decided to take over the world in the form of a start-up clothing company. We actually did really well considering we started the whole project off with limited resources somewhere in the neighborhood of $650. Our marketing skills were obviously somewhat limited, but we were bound and determined to get our name out and simply would not be denied.

We used part of our initial “investment” and had a few thousand stickers printed up in order to put our name out for all to see. After seeing that O’Neill is using a similar – obviously more large-scale strategy – with their recently launched SuperFreak/RuOne online contest, I took a trip back in time to the days where no object within 100 mile radius was immune from the branding method used by a few ultra-dedicated teenagers looking to become moguls at an early age.

Basically whoever prints off the SuperFreak/RuOne creative, found on the O’Neill site, and slaps it in or on the most random and crazy location wins. Entries are to uploaded and submitted online. At the end of the contest surfing phenom Jordy Smith will review and personally hand pick the grand prize winner who will receive a brand new autographed Jordy Smith surfboard, signature boardshort, along with a bountiful apparel package.

O’Neill makes it clear they aren’t looking for entries that deface public property or that will be considered vandalism. My past experience with this technique is that there is really no way to avoid it. Depending on the participation in this contest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the SuperFreak/RuOne image in some very unexpected places. We think placing one (or more) on the Cardiff Kook would do well.

O’Neilljordy smith

Posted in Brands, Surfing | 2 Comments »

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