Late last night I was watching Fuel TV. Yes, that cable channel. You see after skating, eating some delicious pizza and a few “adult pepsi’s” at the Lost dog cafe I settled on this one fact … there isn’t a whole lot on the tube at 1:30 AM. So, I settled in to watch a little special on surfing “Localism”. The concept here is pretty simple for those of you that don’t know: Localism is the act of treating someone from outside your community with negativity and hostility. The overwhelming theme wasn’t on surfers vs. surfers. No, the big thing all the surfers wanted to talk about was “If you are from Nebraska and you dress like a surfer. Stay in Nebraska and don’t come to my beach.” Let’s simplify that further. The people portrayed in this program were saying this “Quit commercializing my sport and letting the masses in on the fun.”
The commercialization of action sports has been a constant theme for several years. Again, for those of you who don’t know or maybe don’t care here’s the deal, at the end of the day money, big business and the consumer drive the action sports industry. Those three reasons alone will be the reason it’s anchored largely to retail business for the time being. Additionally, fully making the viscous cycle complete, in retail you must have a hook to bring in new customers while finding a way to keep the old ones on board. So, it ends up being you don’t want big business but you need big business to raise awareness and attract new blood. Really, it’s painful and I’m sure your super-core-bro- down-rep will be happy to tell me I’m all wrong.
First let me give you an example of where that model is embraced for success
With the right steering to guide the content, product and program becomes a different animal. The transition moves from “I’m turing away” to “I’m embracing.” Panasonic got this. Need some skaters for a commercial? Why not get the Girl skate team? Why not get world class filmers and editors? Maybe they said “I have a crazy idea. Lets invest in our audience” That appears to be what they did for the second year running and this is what you get:
So Panasonic figured it out and their website takes it to another level. Granted I don’t need anymore Ryan Sheckler after following his exploits in 2006 but still the commercials and blogs make up for the over exposure. Yup, Panasornic sure will make you skate better. Now they just need to start handing out cameras to the media!
Ok, all sarcasm aside Panasonic is here to make money but they figured out the key thing this consumer base wants to know. This was achieved by staying true to the counter culture roots of action sports and dialing in a few questions and themes:
“How, in today’s digital age, your products empower us?”
“What can I do with your technology to achieve my goals?”
“You are using me to make a sale, Guess what? I’m using your technology to cement my future.”
Embracing those themes got them to here.
Whether they keep it up and others learn from it only time will tell.