Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Marketing Weak

This week I purchased Marketing Week and was interested in the 'Sports Sponsorship' piece titled 'Biggest is not always best'. As a dedicated Action Sports marketing agency, KAOS is well versed on working with smaller budgets and sports properties.

After an interesting opening, the article focuses on what is termed 'minority sports' using Olympic sports as the possible opportunities for brands with lower budgets.

It was disappointing that Action Sports were not considered worth mentioning as part of the 'minority sport' mix. It seems whenever the opportunity opens to look at smaller sports properties, the discussion ends up at athletics and other sports that traditional sports marketing agencies have some experience with.

With a little bit more digging, brand owners eyes could have been opened the the fact that;
  • British athletes are actually quite good at Action Sports and there are numerous 2006 major contest winners and recent world champions of various action sports disciplines that have gone largely un-noticed in this country
  • Action Sports offer a depth of creative brand allignment opportunities unmatched by traditional sports
  • There is a wealth of dedicated Action Sports press and TV media as well as a rapidly growing interest in Action Sports by the mainstream
  • Unlike the Old Skool 'real estate agent' mentality of some mainstream sports marketing agencies , echo'd in the article (i.e. spend big budgets on football so we get our 15% and don't have to work too hard for it) , a new breed of agency like ours is working very hard to connect Action Sport with brands through creative marketing communication and leveraging strategies not reliant on big rating TV time slots
Action Sports will become a significant force in the future of sports marketing. I have always believed the place of trade press should be to challenge norms and open the minds of their readership in the interests of progressing thought within the particular industry. I think the opportunity has been missed in this instance.
Nike ACG European Team Managers Report 14.04.06

Well the last 2 weeks have been very eventful with the team representing well throughout Europe with various events and photo shoots going on.

New Team Riders:

Gary Zebrowski, snowboarder, France, we are delighted to welcome Gary to the European team, an incredible rider who has appeared in the final of the Artic Challenge and finished a fantastic 6th in the Olympics in Turin this year. Gary is a great guy who is well motivated and excited about working with ACG over the coming years. Gary will be wearing ACG from this weekend where he will be riding in his own contest the Taravana Freestyle in Les Deux Alpes, France.
Theo Lange, skier (13years old from Tignes France), ACG sponsored him up after the Big Day Out where he rode unbelievably (check the hip shot from the big day out). I have been riding with him over the last couple of weeks and he is a real talent and a great personality.

I took him over to the Candide invitational to check it out and see what the best in the world were doing and let him meet Andreas, Mati, Rich, Roy and Jon Hatveit. He had strict instructions not to jump anything as it was so big but it wasn’t long before he was hitting it up. After a couple of hits Theo was doing 180’s and 540’s up Candide’s huge step up jump. He impressed Candide so much that even though he didn’t have a riders' pass candide took him over to the riders lift personally to introduce him to the lift operator and let him ride the lift, he then got the lift up with Theo – Theo was stoked and killed it.

We then went over to 2 Alpes for the Nike sponsored BUSC week, Theo made people take notice of him again as he shot 6ft out the pipe with Vianney taking shots of him and Fouch (head of the snowpark in 2 Alpes) asking him on a summer sunset shoot on the glacier – not bad for your first weekend in front of the media, he may even have secured a part in a UK ski movie in 4 days.

Check out the photo of Theo from Les 2 Alpes – he has other shot higher than this in the pipe as well. He is going to be huge.

Allan Besse (snowboarder), another recent recruit for the French ACG team, a 2 Alpes local who was ripping when we went over for the BUSC week in Les 2 Alpes. Allan is motivated to improve his riding and do the contest circuit in Europe. He has great skills in the pipe and he is still only 21 so he is someone to watch out for over the coming years.

Recent Events:

The first event was the Candide Invitational in La Clusaz on the 1st and 2nd April, this is a big media session organised by Candide Thovex in his home town. Filmers and photographers from all over the world along with the best riders in the world come to this event to ride together and get images on the incredible park that Candide sets up. We had 5 riders riding in the event and all of them showed the worlds media what ACG is all about.

Andreas Hatveit smooth 540s on the big kicker (35m long and an 8m high take off – the biggest jump I have ever seen)
Theo Lange – 180, 540 step up
Mati Imbert – the only rider to be doing 1080’s on the step up
Roy Kittler – first rider to do the 30m rollercoaster rail and smooth switch 720’s on the kickers

On the Saturday evening Candide hosts an in town jam session which this year had the usual selection of big rails and a large quarter pipe at the bottom. Roy and Andreas rode the quarter well but it was when the rail session started that Andreas really kicked into action and by the end of the night had the best trick prize in the bag with a 450 rotation onto the rail and a 270 out. The gap onto the rail was about 7m and Andreas made it look ridiculously easy.

I then went over to Les Deux Alpes with our 2 young skiers Murray Buchan and Theo Lange for the British Universities Champs which was sponsored by ACG UK. The event was well branded and the ACG team was doing demos throughout the week showing the students how freestyle is really done with Paddy Graham standing out with his smooth hits on the kicker and big airs in the pipe. A good week was had by all the team here.

The next major event on the skier calendar was the Jon Olsson Invitational in Are, Sweden. Andreas was invited to ride in this contest which again had the world’s best skiers and apparently the biggest contest kicker ever built. The contest began with 32 skiers and after everyone had 2 qualification runs the top 8 skiers were taken and put into a head to head knock out until there was a winner. Andreas rode superbly stomping 1260 rotations and made it all the way through to the semi final where he was knocked out by Jon Olsson himself who went on to win the contest with his newly invented trick, the “kangaroo flip” which involves 2 flips and a 180 at the end – very tricky, but once again Andreas put himself up with the beset in the world and more than held his own. (Below, Andreas on the kicker).
Andreas is now filming for the coming weeks with Poor Boyz Productions to finish his section in what is the biggest ski movie in the world.

As I write this Mati Imbert, Sverre Liliequist, Jukka Eratuli and Henning Marthinsen are on their way back from Canada where they have been over filming for the ACG team video at MICA Heli Lodge in British Columbia. They have had a week of heli time to get the remaining footage necessary to make our DVD world class and provide a full cross section of riding showing the gear working in all conditions. I have yet to see and footage but MICA is renown for its unbelievable terrain and good snow so I am sure the guys have had a great time and got images to prove it.

Upcoming events:

Taravana Freestyle, Les Deux Alpes:

This is Gary Zebrowski’s contest which ACG support, we are going to have several team members there such as Rich Permin, Mirjam Jaeger, Mati Imbert and of course Gary Zebrowski.

Next week immediately after the contest ACG are shooting the 2006/07 ad campaign in les 2 Alpes which should be even better than last years with great impact and increasing the attention that ACG is getting throughout Europe. The ad campaign will be featuring the following riders:

Gary Zebrowski
Henning Marthinsen
Sverre Liliequist
Andreas Hatveit
Mati Imbert
Mirjam Jaeger

Other rider news:

Richard Permin has been riding superbly all season and is really starting to make a name for himself both within ACG and in the European scene. He has had a double page spread in WE Ski this month with an interview where he gives good props to ACG and has a great photo (Taken by Seb Leon). He has also just been invited on a Mag trip with WE Ski to Finland at the end of next week which he is excited about, he has been in Les Deux Alpes all week training for the Taravana contest and keeping his skills up to scratch for his trip.

Rudi Kroell has had a great end of the season with some good comp results coming in from the Wangl Tangl in Austria and most notably and win at Martin Cernik’s contest in the Czech Republic in front of a world class field. He is now concentrating on finishing off his video section for Fat Gypsy Productions in which he and Flo Mausser will have full sections.
Mati Imbert has been as busy as always, he was involved in the La Plagne kicker session 2 weeks ago where they spent 3 days building the jump and reaped the rewards as you can see from the photo below.

Mati is also in the middle of organising his end of season session in Vars/Risoul, his home resort. The plan is to go up and stay in his father’s restaurant on the mountain after the resort is closed and use the opportunity to film and shoot photos with nobody else around.

Martin Mishof has had a busy season on shoots and the contest circuit with good result coming in all year including:

Switzerland - Engadin snow Big air 1stplace
Norway - Sweet Rumble Big Air 5th place
Austria - Big Air Fieberbrunn 1stplace
Switzerland - European Open Laax 7th place
Austria - New School Picknick Bigair my first switch 1440 rotation (see photo)
Austria - Spring Battle Slopestyle 1st place

Still to come ...
14.-22 April. WSSI Whistler
21.-24 April. RedBull Stairway to Heaven (defending champion)
25.-29 April. Spring Classics Kaunertal

We also have a couple of young Icelandic riders representing the brand in Sweden where they are at snowboard school, one of them is Victor Hjartarson who dropped me a line to let me know how he has been getting on this year:
“I have had a really fun season with lots of good days so far. I was recently in Iceland with Espen Lystad taking pics for snowboarder mag. That was so sick cuz it snowed for
2 weeks in my hometown and we got to ride powder! Now my season is almost over and it’s been going way to fast.”

We began supporting Viktor (and Gulli the other Icelander) just before the Red Bull Rail Storm in London, Nov 2005. Viktor will be riding at my summer camp in Iceland, IPP, and going shooting for a week in Norway also at one of the camps.

Jaime Puigdengoles has also got back in touch with good news:

“My injury is getting better! I’m going to Tahoe for 12 days!!!April 4th to 16th! I'll talk to you soon about it. The orage crew are getting here next week, people from armada are coming (Chris o'connell, jp auclair, tj schiller...)I'm gonna hang out with them during this coming week.”

I have also heard that the rest of the Spanish ACG team will be joining him out there on a Spanish Mag trip. I look forward to finding out how that went.

PG Conrardy made it back safely from his trip to the Himalayas and tried to explain to me the greatness of the mountains there but found it difficult to convey how large everything there was with mountains reaching the dizzy heights of 8000m and a lack of ski-doos and oxygen made the hiking hard but enough images were achieved for a mag story and it will certainly be something he will never forget.

On the back of her good contest results from this season, Mirjam Jaeger has added to this with some recent mag coverage. She has had a check out in WE Ski this month and a 6 page interview in Skieur mag last month. Mirjam has also decided to concentrate only on Skiing from now as she has enjoyed it so much this season that she sees no reason to try and split her time between the board and skis.

Another bit of good news has come in from Flo Kofer, one of our Austrian freeride skiers:

“My knee is getting better and better, I try to do a serious rehab and hopefully I'll be back on "bike" next week!!! We are also planning hard for the Summer Trip to CHILE/ARGENTINIAOn my website u will find some new pics from the road trip to Dracula, have a look:

Well that is all for now, hope you like what you see.