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Day of Reckoning Has Arrived for RVCA’s Brand Image

Monday, January 26th, 2009

When I think of the lifestyle brand RVCA, images of tattooed surfers, freckly skater chicks, and artsy rock-n-roll all come to mind. Recent ads that I’ve seen in the surf mags feature guys like Alex Knost hanging ten toes off a hand-painted surfboard one minute, while fronting a hip rock band the next. The company’s philosophy revolves around their slogan “balance of opposites” and according to their website they are “renown for pairing contrasting personalities up against one another and celebrating the distinction.” This all made pretty good sense to me and I thought I understood the company’s appeal until witnessing another RVCA athlete during this weekend’s mixed martial arts (MMA) event Affliction: Day of Reckoning.

vitor belfort rvca

Vitor Belfort is a Brazilian MMA middleweight and an athlete sponsored by RVCA. On Saturday night’s ticket he was paired against Oregon’s Matt Lindland in one the night’s most anticipated fights. The fight ended barely a minute after the bell rang when Belfort dropped Lindland with a left hook and proceeded to deliver a barrage of deadly blows that left Lindland unconscious and twitching for several minutes. He was eventually able to make it to his feet and be escorted out of the ring (no doubt headed straight for the emergency room). While emergency crews were dodging the maniacal blows of the semi-conscious and highly confused Lindland, the victorious Belfort was donning his RVCA apparel and raising his gloves in salute to the pay-per-view audience. At this point I was wondering two things: One, will Matt Lindland ever recover from the injuries he just sustained at the hands of RVCA poster boy Vitor Belfort, and two, what exactly was RVCA celebrating in the contrast between Vitor and say…Alex Knost?

What I want to point out here is not the brutal nature of fighting because that’s obvious, but rather what I see as a blatant contradiction on the part of RVCA and their marketing strategy between what they claim to be and what they actually are. I see no potential for balance in the juxtaposition between mellow California surf culture and life altering MMA knockouts. Furthermore, if RVCA is a brand “free from passing trends” like they claim to be on their website, why then have they recently jumped on the MMA bandwagon in an obvious attempt to capitalize on this increasingly popular sport?

So what’s next for RVCA? What new trends can we expect to see in their ad campaigns and sponsorship decisions now that they’ve tackled MMA? Maybe they’ll sponsor that Japanese dude who can eat 300 hot dogs in under an hour and use proceeds to fight hunger in developing countries. I guess some distinctions aren’t worth celebrating at all.

Posted in Brands | 17 Comments »

Danny Fuller Leaves Quik, Joins RVCA

Friday, January 9th, 2009

danny fuller

Kauai’s own model/pretty boy surfer, Danny Fuller has left the Quiksilver team to join the likes of Rothman, Archy, Jones and others on the RVCA team.

Danny is officially a member of the RVCA Tribe. A long time friend and the perfect ambassador for the brand, Danny fits into the mix perfect. He’s back in Hawaii now, getting ready for the Backdoor Shootout.

This is a great move by both parties. Fuller was never going to get the exposure he deserves riding for Quiksilver. I would imagine being in the shadows of Quik’s allstar lineup of Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds, Julian Wilson, Ry Craike, Fred Patacchia, Clay Marzo, and Jeremy Flores is a very cold place to be. Danny will have a much better opportunity to break-through and show the world just how hard he charges being on a team that isn’t stacked to the roof with the world’s best surfers. Plus, RVCA’s all about the artsy stuff anyways, which seems to fit Danny’s lifestyle of modeling, photography, and philanthropy a lot better.

Posted in Surfing | No Comments »

RVCA + BJ Penn = ?

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

RVCAGo ahead and finish that equation if you can. I have tried and tried to come up with an answer for awhile now and to no avail. I’m not necessarily saying I agree or disagree with this partnership and am actually sitting on both sides of the fence when it comes to understanding the reasoning behind it. With RVCA making “The Balance of Opposites” their main concept, the partnership between them and the mixed martial-artist BJ Penn brings that statement to fruition in both a positive and, potentially, negative manner.

RVCA is built around the concept of being an all inclusive, outside-the-box company that stretches beyond the limits of your typical action-sports clothing companies. On top of skaters, snowboarders, and surfers they are represented by musicians, artists, and any other that excels in and is driven by passion and creativity in their particular fields. Penn has proven himself to be just that by showing the drive and God-given talent to excel in that which has made him as popular and well-known as he is today.

By bringing in an unbelievably successful MMA athlete to the team, RVCA is stepping out of the limits to include ‘artists’ of such differing and contrasting styles and genres. This goes right along with their “The Balance of Opposites” concept and accomplishes that which they have set out to do.

Penn recently fought and won the UFC lightweight championship over in the U.K. While their PPV numbers have yet to be released, based on previous fights featuring BJ Penn it will be in the hundreds of thousands as far as buys go. Between that, the live gate, and everything else Penn does in the UFC he is one of, if not the most visible representative that RVCA has. He comes into the octagon sporting RVCA logos from head to toe and his ties with the company are very well known and easy to see. Here is where this may end up being a bit tricky for RVCA.

Penn has always been, and now more than ever as their champion will continue to be, one of the biggest stars of a company and sport that is one of the fastest growing in the world. Where the UFC was once a niche market aimed at the hardcore MMA enthusiasts, it is now blowing up and subsequently aiming to market itself to any and everyone. Specifically, as seen on their most recent shows and advertisements, they are going after the viewers and customers that we will simply call the World Wrestling Entertainment(W.W.E.) market. RVCA has no control of just how and where BJ Penn is marketed by the UFC. And if the UFC has their way the same fans that go out to cheer on and follow Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Ric Flair and cheer for the chair-smack, figure-four, and royal rumbles will without a doubt begin becoming a much larger percentage of their target audience. And inadvertently, with Penn being a walking advertisement for RVCA and their most recognizable advocate, they may be unexpectedly advertising to an unexpected and unintended audience.

Fans want to be like their champions (i.e. I wanna be like Mike), they want to walk like them, perform like them, and they want to wear what they wear. As the UFC continues to grow and expand its market there should be no surprise when RVCA starts showing up in places and areas they never expected. Is this what they had in mind with “The Balance of Opposites”? I highly doubt it.

It’s hard to say where this will lead. Depending on the UFC’s continued growth and expansion as well as Penn’s success with the organization this could lead to a variety of results for RVCA. Their is a point of no return for companies in the action-sports industry that once they reach are almost impossible to come back from, but with so many variables in this equation there is just no way to tell how this ends up for RVCA.

So where does this leave us? Pretty much right where we began – RVCA + BJ Penn = ?

RVCAbj penn

Posted in Brands | 10 Comments »

RVCA Retail Shops

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

RVCARVCA is joining the likes of many other action sports apparel companies by opening branded retail shops across the globe. The first of what will eventually become a major chain, RVCA Retail is opening their flagship store in San Francisco. The 4300sq ft store will open in the arts district on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

RVCA Retail will combine art, music, and fashion in an opportunity for the brand to highlight their individual style within the industry. Along side the latest and greatest RVCA products, select other brands, books, art and music will also make up the store’s products and selections. Now what is really cool is that RVCA team members will play a large role in purchasing products for the store, for example Ed Templeton action as the book buyer. This will give a unique flavor to traditional cookie cutter retail shops that often carry many of the same products.

The store will be two levels and downstairs will be an art gallery that displays new exhibits every 3 months, this will result in 4 major shows every year. In addition the art gallery it will also serve as a place to promote musicians and RVCA athletes.


Posted in Brands | 3 Comments »

Follow the RVCA Skate Team Across Canada

Friday, July 13th, 2007

The RVCA skate team is touring across Canada this summer on snowmobiles and dog sleds. They’ll also be camping in igloos and hunting seals. The tour kicked off today in Vancouver and ends in Quebec on July 22nd. I guess that means its only a week long tour and not the whole summer, bleh.

You can follow the team on their blog where they’ll be making daily updates.

By the way RVCA: What’s up with the blogspot blog in an iFrame? And where are the RSS feeds? That’s a rant for another day and another post though.


Posted in Brands, Skateboarding | No Comments »

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