Commentary by Jonah Bloom

Quiksilver Builds Brand Through Content Creation

Riding Giants Points To Model for Other Lifestyle Marketers

By Published on .

In my world a pipeline is something wars are fought over, a smooth ride is what you get in a Lexus, and a break means getting to the news first. Despite a few bruising early-teen years
Jonah Bloom, executive editor of Advertising Age.
spent on, and mainly off, a skateboard, I am embarrassingly ignorant of board culture. So don't think I'm coming over all "respect the ocean, dude" when I tell you to go see Riding Giants, the newly released documentary about big-wave surfing.

The film opened the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. It was directed by Stacey Peralta, who shot to fame with 2001 Sundance winner Dogtown and Z-Boys, a documentary about a gang of California kids in the '70s who transformed skateboarding -- and youth culture. Riding Giants traces the evolution of big-wave surfing through the stories of three of the sport's they-must-be-insane pioneers, and in doing so explores the surfer ethos.

Consumer entertainment
But what makes the film significant for marketers, even those who don't know one end of a board from another, is that it was partially funded by Quiksilver. The apparel giant has stumbled on a branding model that is based on offering the consumer entertainment rather than interruption. In other words, this is a billion dollar-plus marketer that can look at DVR growth -- 36% of households by 2007, according to Forrester; 42.5%, according to Jupiter Media --

Quiksilver has created a unit dedicated to producing films like 'Riding Giants.'
and honestly say it is ready for this level of consumer control.

Riding Giants is the highest profile in a long line of Quiksilver-funded offerings. Films from the company's coffers over have included Josh Williams' Circle One, as well as Performers, Kelly Slater in Black and White and Mad Wax. Quiksilver has been involved with so many films that in June 2002 it created a unit dedicated to producing content, Quiksilver Entertainment, headed by surf veteran Danny Kwock and former CAA and Fox executive Matt Jacobson.

Board-riding VOD channel
The unit was instrumental in bringing together like-minded surf-heritage and action-sports companies to launch Union, a video-on-demand board-riding channel, through TVN Entertainment's distribution channels, including Comcast. It also created and is working on relaunching 54321, a daily action-sports show, sort of SportsCenter meets Entertainment Tonight, on Fox Sports Net. Kwock and Jacobson have played producer on books too, such as the coffee-table history of surf, skate and snow, Have Board, Will Travel, published by HarperCollins, and the Judy Blume-like Luna Bay series of books for teenage girls.

None of these projects, from Peralta's paean to the big

The Quiksilver book 'Have Board Will Travel' chronicles a century of boarding.
wave to Lantz's teen tomes, focus on Quiksilver brands or products. There are end credits and subtle logos, but this is not about product placement or even brand integration. Rather, it's about selling a lifestyle with which Quiksilver is inextricably associated.

'Benevolent market leadership'
"If girls in Kansas adopt the lifestyle of girls in California, we're bound to benefit," says Jacobson. But aren't Billabong and O'Neill benefiting too? "Sure," he says, "that's what benevolent market leadership is about, and we believe there's enough upside in the category for all of us."

In the future, creating content consumers want to access will be key. Quiksilver has arrived early. And Quiksilver Entertainment is profitable. "We're making money and getting the story out," says Jacobson. This is a wave marketers might want to catch.

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