The Art of Snowboard Marketing

I still haven’t seen the Art of Flight. I’m waiting for the big screen. And, I’ll be honest, there’s some student-like, throwback part of me that wants to see it long after the hype has died down. At the moment (and I’m aware this probably says something slightly sad about me), I’ve been more interested in the frankly awesome scale of the marketing that has gone into the project.

As we know, this is the most expensive snowboarding film ever made and, as Melissa Larssen points out in this review of the film for, that has polarised opinion among the core community. For every rabid grommet frothing at the prospect of all that cash being spunked on screen, there’s an old-timer complaining it’s being overhyped and overproduced in the manner of Sky Sports’s weekly ‘Super Incredible Football Sunday. And it’s live!!!!!’ extravaganzas.

Having not seen it, I’m not really in a position to comment. But whatever your thoughts on the film itself, which has generally been very well received (as these fairly typical reviews in Whitelines and Snowboarder demonstrate), it’s hard to argue that the on-screen expense and creativity on display has been more than matched by the creativity involved in the marketing strategy.

As well as the usual blanket coverage in the core snow media, which has been almost universally positive, and the carefully plotted and released teasers in the build up to the film (the ‘Metal’ trailer was a nice touch) there has been some pretty impressive cross platform (ahem) ‘synergy’ going on as marketing types would say.

There’s the “>Art of Flight limited edition book. The Art of Flight limited edition Travis Rice pro model. The online computer game. The Art of Flight Tour Posters.

Anything else? How about the exclusive Justin Timberlake interview with Travis Rice on Timbo’s own website? Hell, JT even turned up at the New York premiere (see above), thus garnering even more publicity. And that Asymbol Gallery that is promoting both the book and the screen prints? That would be owned by….none other than Travis Rice.

And it’s interesting to draw a parallel between snowboarding’s other standalone superstar right now, Shaun White, and the two differing approaches. Here you have the two most high profile and possibly talented guys in the snowboarding world. But their standing with their core community could not be any more different. On the one hand, Travis Rice manages to make the most expensive snowboarding film ever, with possibly the most sophisticated marketing angle ever (again – Justin Timberlake?), and comes out of it looking more core than ever. Whereas Shaun White makes a comedy chewing gum commercial and gets absolutely caned for it.

Turns out Travis is as forward-thinking off the screen as he is on a board.

This entry was written by matt , posted on Friday September 23 2011at 10:09 am , filed under ACM, PR, snowboarding, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

6 Responses to “The Art of Snowboard Marketing”

  • Harry says:

    White has clearly sold out – no holds barred – and Rice has got a clever bunch of people behind him (or who knows, maybe he’s thought it all up himself).

    Some may say White sold out a long time ago, but this ad shows no shame. A guy of his wealth could surely turn his nose up on a ‘corny’ add like this, but he hasn’t. Why?

    It’s hard to understand why Rice gets the good press, whereas soon as anyone sees the White advert they immediately call him a massive bell-end.

    Is it down to the Olympic thing? White gets the mainstream coverage from that, which is why he gets the chewing gum, tyre adverts and skinny jeans?

    Or is it just down to Rice actually having friends within the snowboard community.

    White’s not shy to admit that he can’t be friends with anyone he competes with.

    They are indeed two guys at the top of their game, but both have completely different images within the circuit.

    He might be a massive dork, but you still gotta respect the guy for what he’s achieved and done for the competitive side of snowboarding.

  • Chris Moran says:

    If you’re making good art, it doesn’t matter who the patron is. 300 years ago it would have been the Church, today it’s Red Bull. Personally I’m not that bothered about where the money is coming from. Travis Rice is making something happen, and that’s why he’s getting full respect from the snowboarding community. Putting your name to chewing gum? Well there’s a time and a place for that kind of thing (and I’m sure it’ll help buy SW a new swimming pool or similar), but it does hark back to what Bill Hicks used to say about rockstars advertising:

  • matt says:

    Good art? Is it that good then this flick, that it deserves to be called actual art? Blimey.
    Very fair point though about the artistic ends justifying the commercial means, but just to be Devil’s Avocado about Shaun White for a second, hasn’t he earned the right to be cut that same type of slack? He’s done the whole film vanity project thing with The White Album (directed by the great Dave Seaone no less), won Olympic medals, won every single event in snowboarding (and skateboarding). Surely if anybody has earned the right to be cut some slack it’s White?
    I think it’s probably more to due with what Harry’s on about, Maybe it comes down to something as simple as this: compared to the super sexy high tech slow mo assault of Art of Flight, that chewing gum ad just looks a bit….dorky.

  • Helen says:

    The way I see it is Shaun White runs his own show. He quit RedBull in July and interestingly took RB’s marketing girl Crystal Garret who is now director of SWE Operations. But rather than Red Bull weep into their wings over the loss of Shaun, they’ve had the perfect opportunity to throw money at a groundbreaking film and make room for Travis to be their new poster boy.

    As Chris said Travis is making something happen in snowboarding. and yes, so has Shaun. We – the royal we- the snowboarding community, like that. Shaun White is run by a team of people who all work for Shaun White Enterprises and it seems that they are more intent on making hollywood happen and building the SW brand to a bigger audience. Fair do’s.

    SW is big news, SW Enterprises probably even have loo roll that’s been embossed with ‘SW Enterprises’… he’s bigger than snowboarding…he even stars as himself in the ‘hit’ Justin Timberlake film Friends with Benefits, not to mention the Shaun White skinny jeans for Target etc.

    However because he’s enevitably surrounded by yes people who all work for him and think his skinny jeans are dope, they are in danger of making naff decisions (see chewing gum, skinny jeans, tyres etc) and losing any ounce of credibility he once had in snowboarding. However i say that, but they’re probably just making money so that when his contract with Burton is up he’ll go out and make his own outerwear and boards. No wonder they tied him down for ten years.

    Are SW Enterprises being too reliant on the fact that when it comes down to it, SW can still throw down better than most, regardless of his core cred so it doesn’t really matter? What is his core cred these days? Does SWE care that we may not care? Do we care? Its all too much. Fact is, SWE could easily try and rebuild his core reputation, but to be honest, I really don’t think its part of their gameplan. So on that note, I blame Justin Timberlake.

    i’ve just wasted 30 minutes talking about Shaun freakin’ White.

  • iain says:

    Good blog and comments. Let’s face it, Red Bull are very good at marketing. Maybe it’s not about Travis Rice and Shaun White at all…

    BTW Where are your social share buttons on this blog? I’m too lazy to CTRL-C CTRL-V

  • snowboarding says:

    Great blog and interesting comments. Glad to see snowboarding being marketed in mainstream media more often.

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