Stab Magazine | How to Get Sponsored

Live Now: How Surfers Get Paid — The Queens of Ascension


How to Get Sponsored

Darts and twin-fins, mostly

cinema // Aug 2, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Are you a good-to-great surfer? The best at your local? Maybe the second-best (fucking Caleb)? Are you wondering why you don’t have a sponsor?

It’s because the surf industry is poorer, but also smarter, than they were ten years ago. 

In 2007 every freckle-faced, tail-tossing tween was rocking decals from nose to tail. Thanks to an era of mainstream appeal, the QuikBongRips had ample money to throw around. The problem, beyond a looming recession, was that they threw their money at hordes of half-talented children. 

Keep in mind that a sponsorship is nothing more than an investment. A calculated bet that, in the long run, should produce a profit for the brand. In that way, a for-profit company should spend no more on an investment than that investment will be able to return in the future. Which, in this case, was determined mostly by the sale of T-shirts. 

And how many T-shirts do you think these kids sold, by way of throwing a little tail? What is the dollar value of a semifinal finish in the NSSA Nationals, Explorer Menehune division? Not fucking much. 

blog 3114 img 1 md

Crippling debt never looked so cute. Photo: NSSA

What money wasn’t squandered on bad investments, these companies lost through an economic recession and simultaneous loss of mainstream appeal. Wall Street was dead, and ten year old girls had renounced once-chic Roxy. 

This confluence of events led to a destruction of the MEGA-BRAND and the birth of smaller, more sustainable brandlettes. Vissla, Brixton, Epokhe, etc.

These smaller brands work for a number of reasons:

  1. Rather than appealing to the masses, they create a unique brand message and promote their product to a specific demographic.
  2. They produce apparel that doesn’t look like surf apparel, in a world where nobody wants to wear surf apparel.
  3. They choose their riders based, majorly, on social media presence.

Number three is where Josiah’s satirical analysis (above) comes into play. While he alleges that being ‘hipster’ — smoking cigs, riding twinnies in chest-baring neoprene — is enough to attract lucrative sponsors, he’s overlooking a major aspect of the hipster’s appeal to surf companies: social capital. 

The hipster is talented at personal branding. He promotes himself in a way that, while contrived to those in the know, is the perfect amount of edgy and indifferent to garner mainstream appeal. We all have that friend who is totally not cool but everyone on the internet believes he is. Welcome to social media.

And welcome to sponsorship!

All you’ve gotta do is take this newly learned knowledge, apply half-decent surf skills, and you’re right on track to a four-figure contract.

Remember how I said companies are poorer and smarter than before? Yeah, that means minimal compensation for even the hippest amongst us. 

The world is our pearl-less oyster!


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