Non-Endemics in Action Sports – Time to Embrace
There’s been an ongoing debate in the world of action sports (hate the name, but if anyone has a better term, let us know) about non-endemic sponsors coming in. For those who have no idea what we’re talking about, the term non-endemic (aka non-native) sponsor is an entity that typically does not create products necessary for participation. Think beer ads in a ballpark versus Louisville Slugger banners, giant Old Spice logos on Tony Stewarts car as opposed to his choice brand of helmet… wait… what?
In the world of activities… not just sports, non-endemics are almost a necessity. Look at FIFA, NASCAR, the NBA… non-endemics not only sponsor individual athletes, but whole teams and stadiums.
If you don’t support a choice of sponsor, it’s up to you to decide if you’re going to support that brand. For example, take all the negative comments being thrown towards Transworld Business for their advertising affiliation with MMA.
(one comment from the Boardistan comments section on this post)
How dare Transworld!!! How can they take non-endemic money and get tremendously rich, especially when there are so many endemic brands looking to spend the same amount on their site. Wait? Are there?
No, there aren’t.
Personally, we don’t really care for MMA. We’re not into it, we’re not against it… just not our collective thing. We don’t like boxing either. If you’re a brand and you’re afraid that a MMA apparel company will take sales away from your surf/skate/snow/moto apparel company… well, you’ve got bigger issues.
Let’s look at another industry site, Tiffany Montgomery’s Shop-Eat-Surf .
Most of the advertisers here are non-endemics. Yes, they’re vital to running a business and Tiffany’s site focuses strictly on the business side of action sports, but they’re still non-endemics. Maybe that’s a bad example… so let’s look at the athlete/rider perspective.
At the recent group Y Action Sports Conference (of which BBPR was a sponsor!) there was a great panel on brands (especially non-endemic) and atheletes working together. In addition to Brad Lusky, EVP from OG athlete management firm Wasserman Media Group (who made a very smart comment about the lack of lifestyle shops surrounding BMX), there was Troy Michaels from Target and Kevin Robinson, one of greatest guys to ever put his feet on a BMX bike.
(pic courtesy of Red Bull)
For more than a decade, Kevin has ridden for not only Mat Hoffman’s Hoffman Bikes, but also brands such as Target and Red Bull. While we’re not necessarily stoked on what Target does with Shaun White in their own clothing line, their support of riders in other ways is extremely commendable (take our word… we’re not going to get into it here).
Kevin gets this too. He made a few comments during the discussion that a lot of riders are barely making ends meet. He needs non-endemic support to continue to pursue his dreams on a bike and brands such as Target and Red Bull have been great partners.
Take, for example, Kevin’s setting the record for highest air on a BMX bike.
See that Red Bull logo on the ramp? It was necessary. Events and demos are expensive and for this ramp to be built, while Hoffman probably could have made it happen, it was less of a drain on Red Bull’s resources (still a drain, but less).
Before the collective industry alienates every potential non-endemic sponsor, we need to collectively realize that there is a benefit. If a non-endemic comes in the right way, such as a Monster or whoever, and embraces/helps/promotes these activities, it’s for the good of everyone involved. And if it’s done the wrong way… well, why not give some constructive criticism versus just calling them out for being kooks.
Don’t get us wrong… we don’t necessarily have to use non-endemics. We could forgo branding on helmets and sponsorships altogether. Figure skating, curling, equestrian and badminton seem to be doing great without outside support.
We hate the “core is poor” saying and while the heart of any action sports brand are the products and riders associated, we need the other supporters (and fans who don’t participate, but enjoy watching events such as the X Games) to help keep the lights on.