Is Red Bull the Surf Industry’s Biggest Threat?

By on August 15, 2014

While companies like Hurley, Volcom, Quiksilver and Billabong have created the surf industry as we know it today, Red Bull appears to be dumping the most money in it, sponsoring a surf team that rivals just about any of the top surf brands, and paying surfers a lot of money in the process. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe it’s about time surfers started looking outside the surf industry to make more money. Lord knows Red Bull can afford it. The company grossed $6,000,000,000.00 (six billion) last year, nearly five times as much as Quiksilver, and has been slapping its logo on the boards of the world’s best surfers for the past several years. Throw in movies, special events, webisodes and branded Wave Runners at all the pro surfing events, and you’ve got the perfect example of what a new “surf brand” looks like.

But is it really a threat if they’re not producing apparel? Maybe it’s not so much a threat as it is a “flexing of their muscles” …. The point is up for debate. The threat reference just makes for a great tagline, sort of a conversation piece. There is no denying however that Red Bull is a surf brand, marketing its products to surfers all over the world, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Truth is, surfers have been waiting for an opportunity like this for years. Surf companies can only pay so much when it comes to the salaries of today’s best surfers. Perhaps having a company like Red Bull support surfing takes the pressure off. Perhaps the core brands don’t have to pay their athletes as much money now that Red Bull is so wonderfully supplementing pro surfers’ incomes.

The next step for Red Bull is this: Sponsoring an ASP World Tour event. When that happens, and it’s only a matter of time, the world of surfing will welcome it with open arms. If you thought the $100,000 Vans put up for the US Open of Surfing was a lot of cash, just wait until Red Bull comes raging in. Not only will they most likely up the standard 50-100K in prizemoney, but they’ll probably be the first company to award a surfer a million bucks for winning a surf contest, putting it close to what they pay pro golfers and tennis players.

Yeah, Red Bull gives you wings, but for pro surfers, it gives them cash. Ice cold cash.

About Skip Snead

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