The Allure Of Action Sports
I just read this great article written by Billy Carter on MediaPost (You can find the full article at this link).
Billy explains the growth of action sports and what these “sports” are all about. He concludes with the following suggestions to any non-endemic brand out there that wishes to start an action sports program to reach GenY. Here are his main suggestions:
- Before the start of your project, speak with young people who are invested in action sports culture to educate yourself and your staff
- Whether they are pro athletes, amateur athletes or other respected personalities in action sports, get well-respected “ambassadors” to help be the face and voice of your brand when trying to reach young people
- Sponsor grassroots action sports events and competitions, not just the large, made-for-TV events
- Advertise in endemic print and online outlets
- Hire photographers who specialize in the respective action sport to photograph anything you are doing in the sports
Here are my comments:
The tips are really good, and from all of them I would (WITH NO EXCEPTIONS) say that if you are a non-endemic company and want to break into action sports, you HAVE TO have a team of smart business people that live and breathe action sports. No one else can better tell you what looks good to our eye. We are picky, we are passionate, we are a community that hates to be invaded by outsiders.
AUTHENTICITY is key, but don’t try too hard, or we’ll notice it. Be involved for sure. If you want to be successful, you have to have some type of grassroots program. Our industry is not about impressions, it’s about making your mark everywhere all the time. You’ll get more respect, especially if you contribute something positive to the industry.
The X-Games and Dew Tour are not for the core. These events are for the mainstream. Core action sports people don’t care if your brand sponsors this type of mass market events. We are not like baseball or football fans. Watching an X-Games final is not what we’ve been waiting for all year long. We are participant first and foremost. And action sports with everything that comes with it (Art, music, etc,) are our life. People (Brands) that don’t live the culture will NEVER be able to understand it, no matter how much they read, research, watch, etc.
To finish up:
1. Get yourself a great team of action sports people that also understand where you are coming from as a non-endemic brand
2. Listen to them and embrace their lifestyle
3. Don’t try too hard. Be yourself but be respectful and committed to this market. The action sports industry will recognize your efforts and eventually will reward you for your support and for contributing positively
4. We are a lifestyle, not just a sport. So don’t forget about how art, music, and fashion work with skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, etc. (notice how I talk about “work” vs. “influence”)