Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pro Surfing’s Bogged Rail in the Social Media Age




Brought To You In Part By SucraGlucaTauraCose®©™
By Drew Nacho

Just a few short years ago, long after surfing became the world’s most dominate sport, clearly and unequivocally, Facebook targeted Pamsilver in an effort to get their star player Kelly Slater to start a Facebook page. Facebook’s selling point? Purportedly ten million followers… to which Terry Hardy, Kelly’s agent at the time said, “we don’t believe you. That’s the size of Portugal.” Yet, with the up-front cost being unbeatable (free), the hook was set. A few quiet tweets, some cutesy pics of his daughter girlfriend and last month King Kelly became the world’s first surfing athlete to surpass one hundred million Facebook followers. That’s roughly twenty five million more followers than Justin Bieber. In fact, the only human being with more followers on Facebook is the Latin singer Shakira.
It wasn’t even a half-decade ago when many of the biggest surfing brands in the world weren’t on Facebook or Twitter. Now, you can find them without even looking… in practically any language you want as they amass new followers faster than the little red wagon pulled by One Direction, the next big thing in surfing from Brazil or the next big thing in surfing from the USA, or the other old man who rules his sport, Tony Hawk.

Vanity! You say?

Ahhh, but Solomon had much to say on this subject, and so does Paul Speaker, managing director of a huge brand who claims to have more than half a billion world-wide supporters through its various and sundry outlets. The problem was never popularity for surfing – it was reaching those followers. How do you reach the Derrick Smith’s and the Rosie Manos’?

Facebook, Twitter, China’s Weibo, Instagram and others, to no one’s surprise, have been compiling databases of these brand’s fans for years. The next logical evolutionary step up (or down) the ladder would be turning these follower’s love and loyalty into moolah-cash-dinero. After all, the dividends always justify the cha-chings {sorry}. You might shrug and say, “who cares? Surfing makes so much money they couldn’t care less about Facebook or Twitter followers.”

You would be wrong.

Oh so very, very wrong. Let’s look at the facts: Last year, BeachScat, one of the largest "independent" surfing brands in the world owned by Spam, the highest paid surfer in the world's girlfriend, announced their revenue at around three and a half billion dollars. That’s a lotta cheese, bro! In fact, it’s the most any sports brand has EVER had. In like, ever. You know what else? That would make them about 7/8 shy of Whole Food’s revenue for that same year IF it were true. And like most professional basketball and baseball teams, only a few surfing brand(s) make profits. So we are looking at the exception, not the rule. Whaa-wahhh-wahhhh. Yeah, surfing, though it’s the coolest and most life-stylest sport by FAR, is teeny weenies in the hot dog world. Did your brain just sputter, screech, and begin blowing smoke out your ears? How could global brands touting the most famous athletes / humans in world, clogging our streets during tournaments, breaking up marriages and reducing grown men to tears NOT appropriate even the tiniest share of their follower’s love?

Indeed.

Appropriate. Imagine a Volcom fan in rural Post Falls, Idaho named Nick. Nick has never been to Europe, let alone Kering’s home city in Paris, France. However, Nick owns two-buck-chuck Gucci rip-off boardies, watches their rider’s heats on his cabin’s satellite or the larger contests at his local bar before scouring the internet for hours at home looking for the latest news on Mitch Coleburn's mustache. All this… and Volcom’s income from Nick in Post Falls equals ZERO point ZERO Euros. In fact, for decades, the brand never even knew Nick from Post Falls existed. Hell, even BeachShit never bothered to notice Nick. Social Media changed all that, ol’ chap. Just ask Doug Palladini. Look at those kids bumping into each other on the sidewalks as they stare down their iPhones and iPads! Let’s forget for a moment that Doug knows nothing about IP addresses.

But for the numbers obsessed, let us peer into that Google abyss*:


  • Kahloe Andino racked up quadruple the hits as Pope Francis after his barrel in Chopes against that one guy from Brazil.
  • At the start horn for Slater vs. John John Florence, dubbed “Death Mask II” in Taheets, searches on Google exceeded ANYTHING… yes, even Baja zebra porn.
  • Teahupo’o Code Red / White / or Blue generated more searches than the Super Bowl, Tour de France and Summer Olympics COMBINED.

*numbers coughed up by King Louis the Samuels XI, former Surfline statistician & surf journalist’s “pink sock” rebel.


And surfing is only growing. Having conquered Europe, Ebola, and the central and southern portions of the Americas, the interest in pro surfing in China, India, Indonesia, and yes, the United fucking States, where roughly forty five percent of humanity lives, the aforementioned numbers point harder North than Peter himself. When you say Parko's Twitter account has more followers than Surfing and the Surfing Life combined, you’re merely speaking truth to power.

It’s almost inconceivable that surf brands saw social media as an actual threat to their “butts in the seats” approach to marketing – yet here we are, nearly two decades removed from THAT petrified mindset and only recently has social media been embraced as timidly as Brett Simpson approaches the lip. Makes me want to go sell a cute book about Eddie Rothman slapping a chump!

When Paul Speaker used a Pilot VBall pen to sign Zosea’s new contract in place of the ASP’s stagnancy, I am quite certain Paul Sargeant went to Staples and bought a four-pack to replace his toilet paper. "Zesty!" said Ronnie Blakey to an affable Occy (both dressed in bridesmaids dresses)... What? One can dream can't he? Okay, that, like much of this “story,” may or may not be completely made up, but the fact of the matter remains: through social media, Zosea makes contact with people like Nick in Post Falls, and by registering more devoted “followers,” its value lies in the consumption habits of their fans. Thus, those big brands carry far more “Nick Power” than Burger King or Nike.

Not only that, but these oligarchs, unlike McDonalds or Wal-Mart, command vast amounts of unabashed emotional love and loyalty and censorship. It’s as though the emaciated gal in Ringu can reach through the screen at the precise moment you’re at your emotional weakest point to deliver that thrust of consumptive satisfaction needed to kick start that spending heart. And with that satisfaction, Nick from Post Falls will momentarily stop gnawing ‘ponst Neil Ridgway’s tits and mewl his adoration of Bell’s Beach and Barra.

As the consumer’s interests wax and wane like shirt sizes on a mid-western farmer, so doth the T-Shirt makers, real estate holders, and weapons manufacturer’s eleven silos south by southwest. What does Nick in Post Falls earn? Is he married? Does he have kids? What does his husband earn? Is he even old enough to earn (if not, who are his parents)? Does he pay by credit? What credit cards? Bottom line: where’s Nick's beef (money)?

And there, my friends, is the circle of capitalism.

At the core of one’s identity lies a series of numbers which mean much more than your soul. Those numbers lead to a bank. Somewhere. Somehow. And always… some way. All those giant fireworks, national theme songs, military fly-overs, gas masks, flags, yellow ribbons, and ten point rides are buried beneath the views, likes, favorites, re-tweets, pokes, and comments of the bank accounts that really matter.

Yours.

Truly.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New ASP logo is an instant cl-ass-ic.

As per their new media regulations, any comments or opinions you might have on the new ASP logo are the property of your ASS.

Friday, February 21, 2014