the end of the surf shop – times are a changin’
In a rare display of inter-corporate cooperation, representatives of the five major sponsors of professional surfing worldwide recently met in an undisclosed venue in New York to discuss the implications of (1) the declining popularity of the professional sport of surfing (2) the declining physical appeal of the current top five male surfers as Brand Standard Bearers (3) the inability of the sport as a whole to change as rapidly as do the world’s fashions (4) the lack of worldly awareness that is attributed to the sports followers and (5) the 2008 GFC and its continuum into 2011 and beyond.
The banner on the wall behind the 5 speakers read ‘ Beyond Skate, Surf and Ski ‘. Twenty five chosen analysts were handpicked to lead the discussion. Given the general fragility of current share prices in almost all of the companies present there was little surprise amongst the analysts that a group approach was in the interests of all the shareholders of all the companies, not to mention their own vested interest in the survival of all of the brands.
The agenda was loosly structured and very informally run. No current top-rated surfers were invited as the discussion was expected to be robust, and in their case – very subjective.
Item 1. Mick Fanning.
The specific objective here was to demonstrate the negatives associated with Mr. Fanning, in particular his photogenic qualities and general appeal. General and initial consensus agreed that he had none, none at all, as demonstrated by the image tabled at the meeting.
< – – –
Given that Mr. Fanning is the face of professional surfing – together with Mr. Slater and Mr. Parkinson – the meeting agreed that none of them are well known for any notional goodwill towards their sponsor’s clientbase. Their fans in fact. It isn’t enough to be led away from the sea on the shoulders of those you have defeated, surrounded by about a hundred hangers on and surf groupies. This is not engagement.
What this image is telling us (we are reading from the leaked minutes here) is that Mr. Fanning is big, confident and smug. That he is apparently wearing a blank T is somewhat of a blow and the position of his thumb under his chin is relatively symbolic; his smile is more of a sneer and he conveys the implication that latent physical force is his major talent. In the common parlance, ‘ Don’t fuck with me, kook. I’m out there. ‘
This is the problem you see, our problem, as kooks are our customers, and they are diminishing in annual double digits.
No doubt this is the image he would prefer his competitors to see, particularly in a close heat, but will it sell clothes to the sedentary youth of today. We think not. We know not.
All the companies present acknowledged that the hard core of amateur surfers no longer wear branded surf clothing and most of the current and remaining customer generic is young and inclined to obesity. Our most successful markets are away from the coast and these must be maintained and grown despite the identity gap that exists between the sea and the bush.
The challenge we are facing here is our re-entry into the coastal / city scene, though our target does not necessarily have to be active surfers. We must look at the wider population. We must follow the money. The last tour by Lady Ga Ga where she performed to small crowds in Sydney and at a probable financial loss nevertheless welded even more devotees to her personally and to her products. The publicity the short tour engendered, the free publicity, was enormous. Her market adores her, alas, Mr. Fanning’s does not.
The meeting also agreed that a good surfer does not necessarily make a successful ‘ pop ‘ singer – examples being Mr Tom Curren, Mr Beau Young, Mr Jack Johnson etc. Their marketing depth is bleak and narrowly focused, their talent is suspect. They drone.
~ ~ ~
The City Professional. The Friday Night Piss Artist.
This is a most neglected demographic, and one that can be possibly attributed to its current image. A representative focus group has agreed to undertake market research into the current fashions of the 9 to 5 office worker (male) as pictured. The stockbroker, the accountant, lawyers, analysts and bankers.
< – – – image
The potential here is enormous. This demographic has money, position, influence and power. Compare it to your typical down at heel surfer who is either on the dole or on pocket money.
The meeting agreed that the one area of fashion that has never been considered is the business suit and the striped tie. the white shirt and the polished shoe. The nose pipe.
A small logo on the suit breast pocket, a subtle image on the tie, a modest monogram on the business shirt. These young men are riding the apocalyptic horses of commercial indiscretion, their disposable income is immeasurable, their greed insatiable, their sex life uncontrollable, their morals unacceptable, their pride unassailable, their wealth inestimable ….
– and we need their money.
note: If it wasn’t for the impeccable influences of Blasphemy Rottmouth and his band of impure heraldics this would never have been written – there is a debt.