ACG, We Hardly Knew Ya

In the last issue of TransWorld SURF Business magazine, we reported onNike’s entry into the surf market with the opening of a SouthernCalifornia ACG office; the hiring of industry veterans Jerry Lund andGuy Trotter; and a push for the entire ACG brand to appeal to a moreyouthful, surf- and skate-influenced customer.

[IMAGE 1]Now, just a few months later, the So Cal office has been closed, and wecan add Nike’s surf experiment to a growing list of Big Swooshactions-sports duds and schizophrenic corporate gyrations.

“There’s been a shift in the bigger picture of ACG,” says Jerry Lund,former national sales manager of ACG South. “I don’t want to say thatACG the brand is going mainstream, but we’ll see the ten-million-dollarmarketing budget being pushed into more of the outdoor and mainstreammarkets — and not the same markets we anticipated. So with that beingsaid, doing a hardcore, techie surf brand just isn’t a good fit.”

[IMAGE 1]The ACG South product line also suffered from a lukewarm (at best)retailer response at the ASR and Surf Expo trade shows. “We knew goingin we didn’t have enough time to put together a good line for themarket,” says Lund. “Right after the shows, we sat down and said, ‘Let’sget the new designers on board and make the changes the retailers spoketo us about.’ The bottom line is we tried to get this to market toofast.”

It’s been speculated that the August departure of ACG President GordanMcFadden was a telltale sign of a power struggle over the brand’sdirection. The recent developments at ACG South follow Nike’s skate shoedebacle and a failed snowboard boot program.

Does this mark the final attempt of Nike to enter the action-sportsmarketplace? If current history is any indicator, don’t count on it. Thequestion is, where will the Swoosh show up next?