The Rip Curl Pro Search gets underway Oct. 30 in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which means the U.S. Rip Curl office is in high gear getting ready for the event.
We asked Rip Curl CEO Kelly Gibson and Director of Marketing Dylan Slater how the U.S. group is involved and how it plans to capitalize on the opportunity.
How big of a deal is it that The Search is in the U.S. this year?
Kelly Gibson: It's a phenomenal opportunity to showcase one of surfings’ most exciting event legacies in what is so often referred to as “The East Coast's Hawaii.”
Puerto Rico is home to world-class waves, avid surf fans, and a rich surfing culture - all elements that we look for in selecting a destination for the Rip Curl Pro. It will finally give U.S. surf fans accessibility to watch the excitement of the Rip Curl Pro Search live in person, which is something we have been waiting for.
Because it's in the U.S. orbit, does that mean the U.S. division in Costa Mesa is more involved in the planning and execution of the event?
Dylan Slater: Absolutely. Rip Curl USA has fully embraced this event. From creating product pillar collaborations to corporate partnerships to retail tie-ins, almost every division of the Rip Curl USA staff has been activated within the event.
Any marketing innovations happening with the contest?
Dylan Slater: Since the Rip Curl Pro Search is the only event that has an ASP floating license that allows us to move to a new destination each year, our marketing strategy is to make the event all about the location. The intricacies and aspects of our destination are reflected through the artwork, the product, and the experience we create on-site and on-line.
In terms of marketing innovations, we have put a lot of effort and emphasis into our webcast act, as well as our on-site retail store. These are the two most important areas for us to tell our brand's story to the mass audience on line and the spectators on-site.
(Right: Rip Curl Marketing Director Dylan Slater.)
Will Rip Curl bring any retailers to the contest? If so, why?
Kelly Gibson: Yes, we plan to host a handful of retailers who have shown commitment to the brand. We view this as our opportunity to create a unique Rip Curl experience and to showcase the essence of what we do as the ultimate surfing company- put on world-class surfing events and sponsor world-class surfers. We'll also have a bunch of other things on the agenda to ensure they have a great time.
How can this event help Rip Curl's U.S. push?
Kelly Gibson: This is our opportunity to allow some of our important retail partners to touch and experience one of the biggest things we do as a brand. The Search is our point-of-difference in the marketplace, and this event takes that concept to a whole new level. Not only that, but Puerto Rico obviously has a thriving surf market, so we hope this event will create a whole new era for Rip Curl in Puerto Rico and beyond.
How is the government of Puerto Rico getting involved?
Dylan Slater: About a year and a half ago, we pitched the idea to the government's tourism company to gain support. After a lot of follow-up and trips to Puerto Rico to present the event property in detail, we gained their full support as presenting sponsor. This has been the game-changing factor in bringing this event to life.
Everything is that much easier when you have the government's support, and they have been instrumental in helping to create corporate partnerships, permits, and assistance with event logistics. All of these factors are the hurdles and obstacles we experience every year when we take the Rip Curl Pro Search somewhere new.