Marketing “The Eddie” Even When It Doesn’t Happen

Quiksilver is a great marketer, but it’s really great marketing when they can take advantage of a non-event. The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, known as “The Eddie,” is a big wave surfing event named for famed Waimea Bay lifeguard and surfer, Eddie Aikau. The tournament is held within the December to February waiting period, but is only “called” when waves reach 20′ in height.  The excitement usually begins when forecasters predict a large, approaching swell and the contest organizers start setting up. Waves of that size are rare, however:  since 1984, the event has only occurred eight times.

What Quiksilver has managed to do, brilliantly, is keep the buzz alive every year with subtle marketing and the frequently-seen “EDDIE WOULD GO” bumper stickers and t-shirts.  And, while the event isn’t in the mainstream culture, within the surfing world, it’s huge.

Building the Buzz

This year, the buzz began a week or so ago with news of an approaching swell and contest preparations getting underway.  With excitement all around, and a sizable swell approaching, the contest was called for January 20th, driving spectators in droves to line Waimea Bay at 6am to watch riders surf waves four or more times their own height.

Unfortunately, The Eddie organizers are sticklers and while the waves did hit 23′ at times, the 20-foot-plus waves were too inconsistent.  But, as the video below shows, the hype created and the marketing value just in the potential of the contest is huge. (And the waves are still pretty freakin’ big!)

Luckily, there are still five or six weeks of waiting period left in the window, so The Eddie still may happen this year.  Let’s hope that it’s on a weekend so more of us working stiffs can watch, in awe, those brave enough to honor the memory of Eddie Aikau by launching themselves down a 25′ wall of fast-moving ocean!

Bottom Line

Quiksilver has created a lifestyle brand, where the product is secondary to the lifestyle that they support. Marketing that lifestyle, that vibe, that culture, is what gives Quiksilver the ability to so successfully promote and benefit from an event that doesn’t even happen.

Agree? Disagree?  Let me know your thoughts.

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