Gossip Girl: The Sponsorship Edition
OMG guess who got a new nose job!
What metrics do surf companies employ to determine the commercial value of a professional surfer? Historically, competition results and movie parts were the biggest value-adds, but in the Digital Age sponsors might be less concerned with heat results, and instead focused on, it would seem, double taps on the latest Instagram post. On engagement.
Image and sex moves product; good surfing doesn’t always translate to company sales. Just take a look at the unsponsored talent floating around (i.e., Laurie Towner, Josh Kerr, Lucas Godfrey), compared to the number of cut-copy, stickered-up super pre-teens chop-hopping their way through your local on the weekend.
Did Volcom crunch the numbers and conclude that Noa is going to bring over 500k (or 5-10x more than someone like, say, Alex Gray, or Parker Coffin) in profits? Was Dane really generating more than $3 million in net profit for Quik just by slapping a few stickers on his board? Now that we’ve lived through the surf industry’s lucrative glory days, how can companies still warrant paying surfers big bucks to go on surf trips, sink beers, and upload a couple of sponsored social media posts.
Let’s delve into the current transactions in the surf industry’s trade market and assess which surfers are surpassing their companies’ ROIs and those who are flailing in the red.
Jack Robinson – Billabong
We’ve heard strange rumblings for years, of difficulties w/r/t the Robinson’s relationship with, well, just about everyone, not least of which young Jack’s marquee sticker sponsor. You’ll have noticed a strange Lack of Jack, as it were and as of late, though there are competing theories as to what’s keeping a lid on Jack’s seemingly bottomless cup of talent, marketability, and raw, West Australian nerve. While surfers sitting well below Jack Robo on the popularity pecking order get the call-ups for team trips and filming strikes, with few exceptions the Robinson’s line’s been dead for the better part of a year. With his contract up, and with no sign of resigning, as of this writing one of surfing’s true young, bright stars has lost its place in the current sponsorship constellation.
Ian Walsh – Patagonia
Well, that makes perfect sense. Good on ya, Patagucci. Working class folks will adore Ian’s charming stoicism and bullrider bravado. And if they were having any doubts about their return on the investment, his real time fantasy ride at Pe’ahi surely put the check in the mail.
Parker Coffin – Roark Revival
The Youngest Coffin got thrown on the chopping block last year, as Volcom cut a number of their team, while adding enfant terrible Noa Deane as their Post-Bruce, half-mil blondie. This month, you’ll see Parker onboarding the Roark Revival train, flying the waxed canvas heritage flag as he continues to chip away at ‘QS heats, while hopefully continuing his Young Wise Tails shenanigans with longtime filmer Ryan Perry.
That rash guard is scrumptious. Bye VA, hello, umm… RAGE?
Beau Foster – RVCA
It doesn’t matter how well you’re surfing, if the finance department ain’t impressed by your recent social media outputs, you’re probably facing the chop. Whilst Beau doesn’t bring an ultra-progressive approach to surfing, he epitomises old-school style, which is a rarity in the current surf milieu. Unfortunately for young Beau-y, RVCA and him have called it quits, leaving him without a major sponsor.
Sage Erickson – RVCA
In what we see as a brilliant move on the part of the inimitable PM, one Pat Tenore, RVCA have picked up Stab darling Sage Erickson in the past month. We’re thrilled to see Sage donning the double chevrons as she continues to sharpen her competitive teeth, while we’re sure the relationship will blossom ripe, luscious fruit on the fashion-side. We’ll be waiting doe-eyed for the first capsule or catalog.
Griffin Colapinto — ???
Word on the street is that Griffin’s contract with Billabong is up soon. At only 19 years old, his surfing is already at a CT level and he’s easily the best young Californian on the scene — which, in other words, means he’s a hot commodity. And hot commodities are often the subject of bidding wars, rarer and rarer in these days of scarcity.
Zeke Lau and Leo Fioravanti — Quiksilver
Some things (or sponsors) never change. Leo and Zeke were reportedly on contract years with Quik, but it appears as though they are likely to ink new deals with the Mountain And The Wave. Good thing for of their confidence, too — both need a result or two if they want to be on the CT in 2018.
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