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Hangup Systems for Surfboards a Huge Success

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

The Surf Expo held earlier this month in Orlando, Fl. saw the release of the Hangup Systems for Surfboards in North America and it has created quite a buzz. In fact it did so well that over 200 retail stores placed orders for the system and over 80 are already in the process of converting their standard retail surfboard presentations to the Hang Ups. Almost all who visited the Global Surf Industries booth at the expo gave rave-reviews on the system and imagined the endless possibilities they have will have to fill all of the space that converting to this new system will give them.

Basically the Hangup System is a way to hang surfboards and avoid building costly racks and stands, while in the process minimizing the amount of space that typical surfboard stands take up. Boards are hung upside down using the fin sockets thus allowing retailers to display 14 or so boards per meter as opposed to the 6-7 that a typical retail rack is able to display. Global Surf Industries also lists the following benefits of using the Hang Up System on their website:

  • Flexibility in hanging arrangement for retail environments – no specialized rack is required. The same rack that displays clothes, wet-suits or board-bags can be utilized for your surfboard display.
  • Increase your sales by increasing your floor stock. More stock = more sales, same space more flexibility.
  • Easily able to accommodate seasonal changes. Surfboards or Steamers on the same space same rail.
  • Makes the most of valuable retail floor space.
  • Your boards always hang straight and tight.
  • A modern professional presentation for your merchandise.
  • No part of the surfboard is touching the ground and if secured using the grub screw the surfboard will remain secure.

The only downside is that the Hangup System doesn’t work with fixed-fin boards or twin-fins. It does sound like that is something they are working on though. I can’t imagine store-owners being anything but stoked to have a way of storing more boards using less space while having them appear even more organized. Don’t be surprised to see these systems being utilized more and more as you cruise into your local board-shop.

surf expo
hangup systems

Posted in Brands, Surfing | No Comments »

Sabotage Stupidity: Burton’s Power to the Poachers

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Can it seriously be possible that we are now beginning the year 2008 and there are still mountain resorts in the United States that are getting away with banning snowboarders from their hills? Unfortunately, and unbelievably, the answer is yes. While we are now down to the final four mountains that refuse to lift their snowboarding ban, it’s still not good enough. Mad River Glen, Vt., Taos, New Mexico, Alta, UT., and Deer Valley, UT. all somehow continue to institute a ’skiers only’ policy. Apparently the godfather of snowboarding, Jake Burton, has had enough.

Burton is encouraging all of us fellow knuckle-draggers to band together and peacefully protest this atrocity at each of these mountains. On Dec. 15 of last year, a sneak attack was led on Mad River Glen. About 40 white-clad boarders organized themselves at Burton HQ, conveniently located 45 minutes from MRG, for an early morning sneak-attack. They were armed with donuts and smiles, taking an early morning hike up the mountain and catching the elitists before they even knew what hit them. With cameras rolling, the brigade took to the hill while on-lookers below gathered to see their mountain being poached. Once the group made it to the bottom they proceeded to greet skiers with donuts and a friendly hello while staging a peaceful picket line in protest of the continued segregation.

In addition to the protest that already took place, Burton is encouraging snowboarders to poach other mountains and submit a video that documents their experience, and the best video will be awarded with a cash prize worth $5000. So far there are no user generated videos posted on the site. Is that a sign of a failed attempt at Burton trying its hand in social media marketing? Or is simply because snowboarders don’t care enough that only four out of the hundreds of mountain resorts in the U.S. don’t allow boarders?

I’m sure each of these resorts has their reasons for limiting their guests to two-plankers, but at this point those reasons just don’t fly anymore. There simply is no way that these mountains can continue to justify picking and choosing who is allowed on their slopes. Burton has it right as he continues to encourage more of these peaceful poaching-protests, even going as far to call it our “patriotic duty.” Poach away my friends, poach away!!

burton

Posted in Brands, Snow | No Comments »

Billabong’s Freewave Challenge

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Billabong’s Freewave Challenge threw a twist into surfing competitions and opened up the doors for all competitors, surfers and videographers alike, to win some serious prize money outside of the arena of typical contest surfing. The competition officially began on Oct 1st of last year and is now in its judging period.

Taking place in surfing’s epicenter, the North Shore of Oahu, contestants had from Oct. 1 until the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31st to submit video of themselves on their best waves. The competition is broken down into two categories: Best Performance Ride and Best Tube Ride. Any worthy ride on a wave not occurring during a regular surfing contest is eligible.

With out any qualifying tour, elimination rounds, or any ’standard’ of what constitutes the best ride, this contest became one of the most inclusive and gave equal chance to local-legends and pro-surfers alike. Video clips of contender rides were required to be uploaded to the FreewaveChallenge.com hub by registered videographers in the specified time period where they were to be viewed and rated by surfers and fans from all over the world. Now that the entry period has concluded the most popular and frequently viewed videos are being judged by some of the top names and top journalists in the industry. The winners will be announced at an awards party later this month and $40,000 in cash and prizes will be given to the winning surfers and videographers.

With so much being made yearly about the standard used to judge the majority of surfings big events, it will be interesting to see what ends up being deemed the best ride. It also opens up the door for surfers who aren’t as well known and may not be ‘contest’ surfers to throw down something sick and walk away with a big stash of loot and a lot of recognition. And it appears Billabong has been quite pleased with the success of this new style of contest as they will announce the date and location of the next Freewave Challenge at its awards party.

billabong

Posted in Brands, Surfing | 1 Comment »

nvohk: New Community Managed Eco-Friendly Brand – Good Idea?

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Project NvohkIf you haven’t heard of nvohk pronounced “invoke” it is a new “community managed Eco-friendly brand” that is starting to get some press. It is going against the grain and creating a Surf brand that is driven by the community. They are looking for 20,000 members to pay $50 dollars a year, these members will be given control over logo design, product design, and marketing etc… 35% of the proceeds will be given to the community via what they are calling reward points. These points will be redeemed through various means including nvohk merchandise.

It is also an Eco-Friendly brand that will create products from 100% sustainable materials as well as donate 10% of the proceeds to Eco-Friendly charities. Here is an excerpt from their site:

 

  • + build a responsible clothing company that truly puts consumers and the environment in the forefront
  • + make high-quality products from 100% sustainable materials
  • + provide an ongoing fund raising and support engine for environmental organizations

Overall I think it is a really cool idea, I like different business models, I think this generation is more apt to communities and all of that. I do think that even though the Surf/Action Sports/Environmental industries are extremely large, it may be somewhat hard to get 20k users. Not because the message or idea won’t be accepted but more because a lot of the individuals that make up these demographics are young, poor, and lazy.

I signed up, I was number 96, I think you should as well if nothing but for the birth of a really cool and unique idea. When I signed up I couldn’t help but think of some ideas to help spread the word a little quicker.

Email Address Importing: One of the things they do after you sign up is have a handful of boxes for you to paste in your friends email accounts to share the site with. I only pasted in 3 of my friends cause these were emails I had memorized, and I am too busy/lazy to go to my email and browse through my address book and copy and paste names in. If I did take the time to do that I could of comfortably invited 100 plus people that would of more than likely signed up. What they should do instead is add in an app that is common in social news sites that lets you import from your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail address books so you can add a lot of emails in a matter of seconds.

Badges: Also they should create badges that show the member count that gets updated every time a member signs up. These badges will link back to the site and be used for people to copy and pase onto their sites, blogs, and social networking profiles like Myspace and Facebook. If you are proud to be a member you will show it and help spread the word.

Tracking: It looks like they have Google analytics enabled on the site, I hope they have conversion tracking set up so that every time someone signs up they can track that to the referring url. This way they can see what brings in multiple sign ups and look for ways to increase that.

Marketing: The did a press release that was covered on Transworld, and about 6 other outlets I could find. They should also look at setting up Social Networking profiles at Myspace and Facebook and network with all users that have surfing and action sports interests.

StumbleUpon Ads is also a great way to target your exact demographics, you can buy traffic for .05 a click. You can set your demographics to those that only say they like sites related to surfing/extreme sports, etc.. you can also set it to age groups and gender. You can set your campaign to get 1000’s of visitors a day.

Also they could go to Google Blogsearch, Technorati, and Ice Rocket to search for blogs that talk about Surfing and action sports and email them asking them if they like the site and if so would they be willing to do a write up.

Those some quick basic Ideas I came up with I think it is a great idea I would love to see it get to the 20,000 member mark just to see how well a community could run and operate a brand.

*If any of you use stumbleupon go to http://www.projectnvohk.com and thumb it up with your tool bar, I submitted it the other day, and a couple thumbs up will give them some sweet traffic for free.

Posted in Brands | No Comments »

Can a Brand Resurrect in Action Sports

Friday, September 7th, 2007

tombstone.JPGThere was a post on the ASR Blog about Alpine Stars firing their sales reps and going the ever so trendy route of the boutique street wear promotion method. I’m not saying Alpine Stars is dead but they are obviously trying to re brand themselves through new store fronts and audiences. This post from ASR along with recent ads I have seen in Surfing Mags for Maui and Sons, got me thinking. Can an action sports brand resurrect itself? Could AIRWALK pick itself up and leave the shelves of the Payless toddlers section and get prime play in a Zumiez or local boutique?

I think it depends on your definition of dead, and where your threshold is for core, some people would say Fox Racing is too mainstream and that it has lost it’s core, while others are just finding out about them (if they are just finding out about them they were probably wearing a No Fear shirt at the time :) . Can Maui & Sons, No Fear, AIRWALK and others make a true comeback? Im not talking bottom line, because most of these companies lost their core because they were too concerned about their bottom line and pushed assembly line products through mainstream outlets like, Mervyns, Millers Outpost and pretty much any other place that sells Stussy (I have been dying for an excuse to mention Stussy in a blog post).

I think once you are dead you are dead in action sports. The demo is way too opinionated and treats their brands as a way of life. RCVA got hot because anyone outside of a core consumer thought it was a sub brand for RCA Records with really strange designs of chicks in neck braces and guys in owl suits. The action sports demo thrives off of this, they don’t want people to know what they are wearing, and they certainly don’t want people to buy it. I don’t wear RVCA half as much as I used to because I see it all over the place now, I just wear my old designs that no one else has, I don’t really buy new ones. But I digress.

Can a dead company make it back? I am talking dead as in no more sales, lost riders, shops dropping them, etc… If they did, it would take a lot of money, some seriously good riders, and a memory erasing machine. The recent success of Nike SB could be somewhat of a sign for the good. Nike was obviously nowhere close to being dead as an overall company, but I don’t think anyone including them could have expected the tremendous success of the Skate crossover. They honestly tore that up, they marketed it correctly, they got really good riders, and they are killing the designs on those shoes. They came in and took over. Could AIRWALK do the same thing? No Fear, Maui & Sons and AIRWALK are all hitting ads in the mags, but I am not seeing anything innovative as far as design, products, and riders.

What do you think it would take for a Dead company to make a come back in action sports?

Posted in Brands | 6 Comments »

Rage Films Partners with The Ski Channel

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Ski filmmaker, Rage Films, has signed a deal with The Ski Channel to distribute both exclusive and non-exclusive content through Time Warner Cable’s Video on Demand service. In addition, the deal includes an investment from The Ski Channel into Rage Films with the option to buy the company outright at a future date. They will also be a major sponsor on the yearly Rage Film Tour.

Congrats to Rage Films. While they’re aren’t quite on the same level as say Poorboyz or MSP, they’ve consistently produced some of the sickest ski films year in and year out and deserve the success they’re having. This gives them a great opportunity to expand outside their usual audience onto the biggest media platform imaginable, the TV.

It will be great for the sport of skiing as well; aside from Fuel TV most channels only show oldschool skiing that is quite frankly very lame and makes the sport look ridiculous. Now when you tell someone you’re a skier maybe, just maybe they won’t have that stereotypical racer in neon spandex cruising down the groomers pictured in their mind. Skiing has come a long way in the last 10 years and no longer deserves the gaper stereotype.

I can only hope this turns into the a nice liquidity event for them later down the road and I’m expecting big things out of Rage with the new capital infusion. I have included the trailer from their latest flick, Enjoy, for your viewing pleasure… Enjoy.

Posted in Brands, Snow | No Comments »

Artec Snowboards Launches

Friday, August 10th, 2007

The Artec Project, once a sub-series of Elan Snowboards, is now being announced as an independent snowboard company simply called Artec Snowboards. Originally conceived in 2004, The Artec Project has picked up several awards in recognition of innovative triumphs including the patented Omega Sidecut and Artec Blueprint.

The ‘08 collection will be available this fall featuring 8 different models for freestyle riders. There will be two pro model series for Artec riders Gabe Taylor and Laura Hadar. The rest of the Artec pro team consists of Nima Jalali, Jake Devine, Gus Engle and Johnny Miller. Not exactly the all-start team found in companies like Burton but not a horrible team either. I should mention that we’d never expect an all-star team from a startup though. Not only do they not have funds to support it but often times the top-notch riders don’t want their names associated with an unproven brand.

Elan has never really achieved a high level of success with either snowboarding or skiing. Their products have always been sub-par and often times associated with the ‘barney’ image. It will be interesting to see if Artec can breakaway from those stereotypes and become a core brand. The company currently has no website but says one will be available in September at http://www.artecsnowboards.com.

Artec Snowboards

Posted in Brands, Snow | 1 Comment »

La Jolla Group Acquires License for Rusty Apparel

Friday, August 10th, 2007

RustyThe fate of Rusty apparel has been in question since April when R.. & Everything Else Inc, the parent company of Rusty Surfboards and Apparel, canceled their 40 year licensing agreement with C&C Companies. The separation was actually a fairly nasty one and it didn’t seem that C&C wanted to let go. Well, there’s no longer any question as to Rusty’s fate now that the La Jolla Group has acquired the North American license for Rusty apparel and accessories.

The La Jolla Group also holds the licensing rights for other major brands in the industry such as O’Neill, Lost, and Metal Mulisha. They have done a pretty solid job with these other brands and Rusty fits right into their culture as a brand with deep roots in surfing from legendary shaper Rusty Preisendorfer. Rusty also supports some of the top surfers in the world, Jamie O’Brien and Josh Kerr.

Charlie Setzler, VP of Sales for O’Neill, will take over as President of Rusty North America. Charlie had this to add…

“Rusty is a tremendous brand with a rich heritage in surfing. Rusty has all of the components of a successful surf brand; strong retail support, some of the most well known surfers on the planet in Jamie O’Brien and Josh Kerr, one of the most recognizable logos in the industry, and most importantly, the connection to world renowned shaper Rusty Preisendorfer. I plan to assemble a team and deliver product that reflects the creativity and forward thinking of our world class athletes and Rusty, himself.”

“I leave O’Neill with a heavy heart knowing that, after ten years, I will not be a part of a brand that will continue to sky rocket to the top of the surf industry. However, I am stoked to begin a new chapter and build a team that will take Rusty in to an exciting new direction and keep the rest of the industry on their toes.”

It will be interesting to see the direction Rusty heads over the next few years under the direction of seasoned executive Setzler. Rusty has always struck me as a brand that’s kind of been on-again-off-again throughout the years. I remember some years their apparel was sold in just about every shop in the country and some years they were nowhere to be found.

Rusty
La Jolla Group

Posted in Brands | No Comments »

Will Quiksilver Sell Rossignol?

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

RossignolI’ve been hearing a lot of rumors and speculations lately that Quiksilver is looking to dump Rossignol, the ski company they purchased in March of ‘05 for just over $300 million. That doesn’t really come as much surprise seeing that Rossignol posted their first loss in 15 years under Quiksilver’s management. Not to mention that Rossignol doesn’t fit into the Quiksilver culture either.

In my opinion, this purchase was never going to be a good fit. Like I just mentioned, Rossignol just isn’t a company that fits into the lifestyle culture of Quiksilver. While they actually make some of the best skis out there, the company’s roots are just too deeply tied into ski racing. If Quiksilver wants to get into the ski game they should acquire a smaller company that’s core in the freestyle sector, someone like Line Skis would be perfect.

Although a much smaller company, Line fits perfectly right in with the action sports lifestyle. The company is breed on freestyle and has been a major factor in the innovation of skiing’s comback since the mid ’90s. They’ve been at the forefront with freestyle ski technology and have consistently sponsored and supported some of the sickest athletes in the industry. And although some years their products weren’t exactly the best constructed, that’s something Quiksilver could bring to the table which would help Line to the next level.

It’s obvious Quiksilver didn’t really understand the industry they were getting into. One doesn’t need to look any further for proof than the $4.8 million loss they posted in comparison to $3.7 million in profit the year before. The ski community would’ve responded better to Quiksilver’s entrance into the sport through a core company like Line and Quiksilver’s culture should never include ski racing.

Sources close in the company are saying that three different offers are on the table for Rossignol. They are also independent rumors that they’ll just dump a few of the companies under Rossignol such as Dynastar, Look and Lange. So what do you think? Should Quiksilver dump Rossignol?

Quiksilver
Rossignol

Posted in Brands, Snow | 6 Comments »

Project Blue: Ditch the Green and “Be True to Blue”

Monday, August 6th, 2007

projectblue.JPGLets stop talking about “going green” for a minute and focus on “going Blue.” Project Blue is a campaign to protect our coastlines and oceans. It is ran by Propaganda in order to raise money for the Surfrider Foundation. I found out about it from ads in the Magazines and went online to find more info. It is a unique approach that at first I didn’t quite get, it seemed like there wasn’t enough being done for something as important as protecting our Oceans. So I sent an email to Propaganda and got some good responses that help shed some light on the project.

5ones: Is it ran by Surfrider Foundation or Propaganda HQ?

Propaganda: Project BLUE is run by Propaganda, this is a commercial initiative and we are using product to raise money for Surfrider Foundation. To make this effort work for everyone involved we set it up as a campaign driven by our brand partners.

5ones: Are you actively seeking partnerships with companies or letting them come to you?
Propaganda: We are seeking partnerships but only in select catogories. O’Neill has just signed on and they will be another great partner to help drive this effort to raise funds for Surfrider Foundation.

5ones: Do you have more companies being announced soon? if so you don’t need to tell us which ones, it just seems like there isn’t a lot of 3rd party company participation when the cause is such a noble one and so close to home.

Propaganda: O’Neill is the newest company to join our group and we may have one more to announce before the end of the year. That quite possibly be the last one at least for a couple of years. All our partners are experiencing positive response and support from retailers and consumers. I think we’ll expand the product offerings within the partnership group before we bring on more partners.

5ones: What is the percent of proceeds donated to protecting the ocean from each sale?

Propaganda: Rather than go with a percentage of sales, we opted for a hard figure of $2 per item. This number, while may seem small, is easily absorbed in the retail price and still keeps the product desirable by consumers and retailers. Plus, the real bang is that the brands have identified volume based products to generate money. For example, the Reef Fanning is the top selling sandal for Reef. Rather than create a new sandal, they felt it better to make a project BLUE Fanning to really make an impact with this effort. And the consumer is sending a message, project BLUE Fanning was the #1 sandal on Swell.com for the month of July. This is a good sign that consumers are looking for ways to get involved with Surfrider Foundation and helping to protect our oceans. Project BLUE is pulling together manufacturers, retailers and consumers to help our environment.

5ones:Anything else you feel we should cover please let us know?

Propaganda:Project BLUE is not about consumerism, its about responsible consumerism. As consumers we have the power to make changes, every little thing helps. Changing light bulbs, recycling and buying products that are environmentally friendly and/or that contribute to helping the environment are part of that change. We can buy a better future.

All in all I am stoked on the idea and I now that I understand their goals I can totally see their game plan. The Fanning sandal has literally become an Icon. Billabong had the best selling boardshort of last year, and Electric, Nixon, Dakine and O’Neill are all perfect partners. I think it is a great idea to create proceeds off of volume and off of already top selling brands and products

The only thing I could find that maybe could be done better is if these partners all had prominent banners with links to info about Project Blue linking users to the site. Billabong, Nixon and all the partners are getting an unbelievable amount of traffic to their sites and it would be cool if they directed some of that to the cause.

See Current Product Line at Be True to Blue or at Swell

And here is more info to where you can get involved

Propaganda
Surfrider Foundation
O’Neill

Posted in Brands | No Comments »

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