Leverage Your Asset: SIMA Surf Summit 5 Panelist Billy Fried Explains How

Editor’s Note: Billy Fried is the president of the Orange County Ad Club and is just one of the more than twenty high-profile SIMA Surf Summit 5 speakers and panelists. Don’t delay, spots are filling up fast for the Cabo weekend, Register today.

In this day and age of media clutter, where consumers are bombarded with hundreds of messages a day, marketers are experiencing a new phenomenon — fractionalization. The media world has splintered to special interest, niche, narrow, and limited market channels. It is becoming increasingly difficult — and expensive — to reach critical mass of any demographic or psychographic segment. What’s more, the youth market is more media savvy than ever. They process information visually — in a matter of seconds. So your message better be spot on — relevant, aspirational, and hip — or you will be ignored (or even worse, dismissed).

Yet the good news is Gen Y is the first generation to truly grow up in a brand culture. It defines the fabric of who they are. They are more receptive to brand messaging than any generation before them. And you are one of the most relevant and important subcultures for them.

The surf culture has reached epic stature in the pop culture world. Your mythology, iconography, and symbols are hugely influential. You represent absolute freedom to teenagers from Kansas to Osaka. And your brands give them a powerful, visceral association. Do you realize how many mass marketers long for that kind of affinity? They literally pay hundreds of millions for it, because the Gen Y population is the next big one — as large as the Baby Boomers — and their brand loyalties are fickle. As you already know, soft drink, beer, clothing, and entertainment marketers are borrowing liberally from your ethos. So why not leverage your most powerful asset – your brand.

Major marketers are clamoring to associate with real, authentic, core surf brands. I’m not talking about selling out. I’m talking about harnessing the heat surrounding your products, and creating cross promotions, events, product placements, and street-level programs. Designate someone within your company to act as brand ambassador. Have them meet with filmmakers, wardrobe stylists, location managers, TV producers, advertisers, gaming companies, web portals, event marketers, licensing agents. Get your brand in the game. It’s powerful, pervasive and downright profitable if managed correctly. And if it is integrated seamlessly into content, with relevance and without gratuitous schilling, you will get tremendous media exposure (more than you could possible afford) — and connect with your audience in a meaningful, authentic way. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of channels to present your brand. All it takes is persistence, perseverance, and sometimes a little luck. But luck, after all, is the residue of design.


Billy Fried left the big agency world to open Spasmodic, a marketing consulting firm in Laguna Beach. In his previous life as General Manager of Doner Advertising in Newport Beach, he oversaw the Mazda, Arby’s, and May Company accounts. He has also managed several sports-related accounts, including Fila, Gore, and Mistral. Billy is the President of the Orange County Ad Club. Hear more of his thoughts about advertising, marketing, and harnessing the strength of your brand at SIMA Surf Summit 5