Volcom Marketing Execs Talk Volcom Entertainment Reboot
Reggae band Pepper’s live performance at Volcom headquarters in Costa Mesa, California drew about 350 locals and more than 36,000 viewers on Twitch to help celebrate the relaunch of Volcom Entertainment.
The show and the fact that several on the Volcom staff are musicians speaks to the thinking behind bringing back the independent music label originally started in 1995 by Volcom co-founder Richard Woolcott, and Volcom and Liberated Brands CMO Ryan Immegart.
“Considering the brand’s appreciation for music, it’s always a good time for Volcom to do something in the music space,” Volcom Global Marketing Director Kurt Midness said.
“We also took a look around and noticed a lack of authentic connection to music in most brands’ marketing,” Immegart said. “It’s something we used to see a lot more of but has kind of disappeared from the landscape. Volcom is eager to engage the underground audience where there is so much enthusiasm and creativity.”
It’s a leveraging of heritage and a return to the brand’s roots, not unlike some industry brands looking to reconnect with their past to put a new foot forward.
Vans Global President Kevin Baily told SES earlier this month the company – aside from re-tooling its product and retail strategies – would look to lean heavily on its grassroots events moving forward. Hurley looked back to its archives as it maps out 20th anniversary capsules and, as Hurley Vice President of Marketing Christine Peddy said, aims to work with bands from the past and present that are relevant to the brand.
Apparel and Music
Pepper’s April performance was just the kickoff for Volcom Entertainment and included a limited edition collection that dropped to show attendees first before being released in stores and online. That was in addition to the band’s single “Stone Love,” which was gold certified by the Recording Industry Association of America. An unreleased version of the song is on a limited edition 7-inch record given out as a gift with purchase at some specialty retailers.
More Volcom Entertainment apparel collections are on the way. Next up is one set for the fall with pro surfer and musician Noa Deane. Another is planned for the fourth quarter in collaboration with hip-hop artist Fat Tony, New York DJ Dede Lovelace, and art from skateboard artist Michael Sieben. The three will also star in the short comedy “Camp Ramp,” which further expands on Volcom’s entertainment aspirations, according to Immegart.
The collaboration pipeline also underscores the label’s openness to all genres and artists.
“We view each drop (with an artist) as a unique experience, trying to steer clear of cookie-cutter projects,” Midness said. “We’re experimenting as we go, and we have our goal set on special live performances like we recently did with Pepper at our HQ skatepark. This event was open to the public and was a fantastic way to connect organically with our audience.”
While they’re approaching each collaboration in a different way, there is a clear vision for Volcom Entertainment and a new approach from what was done in the past.
“We are certainly looking at things differently this time around,” Midness said. “There are so may new opportunities and ways to connect that didn’t exist when Volcom Entertainment first launched.”
That includes the Volcom Discord group, which he said is being used “extensively now” to understand what’s important to the community. Additionally, social media more broadly allows the brand to have a direct connection to fans.
“In addition, at the same time, we can recognize that despite all the changes in music culture, there are plenty of qualities that remain from the old days,” Immegart said. “So we will certainly draw on all our experiences over the years, but through a modern lens with our core business of creating desirable clothing and accessories always top of mind.”
The record label is rooted in a DIY ethic that initially fueled its successes. As Immegart put it, they “were simply following our passion” in the beginning.
“We didn’t plan things out with a strict go-to-market strategy at first, but we refined our efforts over the years,” he said. “Volcom Entertainment used to be a label interested in selling CDs and records, today it’s more about building a strong community. We are looking to connect enthusiastic fans worldwide with rising musicians across all genres and beats, while also creating clothing that exemplifies and enhances that community’s lifestyle.”
The executive described the early days of the label as a “natural complement to everything that the brand stood for.” Live bands were invited to events and music was sold in surf, skate, and snow accounts, he recalled. Much of that remains as the company looks ahead to Volcom Entertainment’s future.
Said Immegart: “Volcom Entertainment remains complementary to everything Volcom stands for and reflects the many changes we’ve seen over 30-plus years as a brand.”
Kari Hamanaka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.