Roxy launched a new global campaign today. “Make Waves, Move Mountains” “celebrates the empowerment of women in action sports and beyond… [and] helps promote a message of strength and support to young women of any age, sport, or dream.” That’s good! Much better than peddling sex disguised as surfing on the sides of surf shops and on billboards.
You may remember when, all the way back in 2013, Roxy pulled their pants down and jumped ass first into a pile of angry hornets. They released a trailer for the Biarritz Pro that was 1:45 of tits and ass with no surfing. I seem to recall there was one turn at the very end, but perhaps my brain is addled by drink because that turn no longer seems to be there but all the tits and ass still are. Anyway, here it is in case your brain is addled, too:
Oh, how angry everyone got! Cori Schumacher, longboarding world champ/avid proponent of women’s rights, was livid. So livid, in fact, that she started a petition asking that they stop the sexualization of women in their marketing and advertising and instead, helped to present women surfers in a light that women can be proud to be associated with and young girls can truly admire.
“Roxy is the world’s most visible and well-known women’s surf brand,” Schumacher wrote at the time. “Recently, Roxy released a trailer for the 2013 Roxy Biarritz Pro contest that showcases a style of marketing women’s surfing that is not conducive to a healthy, empowered vision of women. Instead of women surfers being presented as an alternative to the sexualization and objectification of women in the culture-at-large, this campaign succumbs to the lazy marketing that is already so prevalent.”
Roar! Roxy reacted to the angry public with a slightly dismissive social media post:
“#DAREYOURSELF,” Roxy responded on Facebook. “It’s our mantra. Whether you are athletic, smart, funny, sexy, daring, confident — we support whatever combination you choose to be. Women are complex and multi-dimensional. To ignore this fact is to ignore who we truly are. Obviously, there’s been much conversation around the video we recently released. We believe all athletes are naturally beautiful, in and out of the water. You certainly don’t have to be sexy to be an athlete, & we also believe it’s not wrong to be an athlete and to be sexy, if you choose to be. We don’t judge one to be better than the other & we don’t believe in excluding one for the other. Thank you for the passionate thoughts shared on the video, & for expressing how much you respect women in surfing. Oh yeah, & for the parody, thanks for making us laugh.”
“AAAAAARRRGGHH!!” the internet collectively responded. “Yet another stellar example of advertising at the lowest common denominator from Roxy,” wrote one commenter. “Yes, sex sells, but so does low-grade heroin and kiddie porn, marketability doesn’t equal respectfulness.”
Matt Warshaw even threw his hat in the ring. “Roxy: ‘We believe all athletes are naturally beautiful.’ So how many non-super-babe surfers do you sponsor?” Oh snap, Matt! He does have a point, too. From Stephanie Gilmore to Robin Van Gyn, I can’t think of a single female athlete they sponsor who’s not drop-dead-choke-on-your-tongue gorgeous.*
Now, I don’t know that Schumacher’s petition did anything at the time, or whether petitions ever actually do anything except make the people who sign them feel like they’ve done something, but it appears that maybe it planted a seed that grew into Roxy’s new global campaign.
“ROXY exists to empower women,” said Danielle McKenzie, ROXY Global Director of Marketing . “From the day Lisa Andersen, the first female competitive surfer, ripped in her boardshorts, we have stood with pioneers who challenged the status quo. Today, more than ever, we must demonstrate our ability to push boundaries across all arenas. Make Waves Move Mountains is ROXY’s bold invitation to accomplish just that.”
Whatever the case may be or the motivations behind Roxy’s new schtick, it’s a good thing. It is a brand, after all, and ultimately they’re responsible to their shareholders, so they need to do what makes financial sense. The ends justify the means, after all, and even if “Make Waves, Move Mountains” seems a little like jumping on the bandwagon, it’s a bandwagon everyone should be on.
*the ones that are legal, obviously. Did I really need to clarify that?