What kind of value could you put on an event like that? Millions? Billions?
I’m not sure how your memory is hanging on, but I had to shuffle through a few old files and bing/yahoo a few old stories to be reminded of what is probably the biggest failure in sports marketing history.
To wit, Quiksilver losing the naming rights to what is now The Eddie Invitational but used to be The Quiksilver: In Memory of Eddie Aikau.
What you may not know is The Eddie Invitational, sponsored by Quiksilver, didn’t start off as a big-wave contest.
The first event was held in six-to-eight-foot waves at Sunset Beach back in 1984, and only went big wave when Quiksilver execs along with Fast Eddie Rothman turned it into the specialty event we all know, love etc, at Waimea Bay.
When the fifty-k prize money was announced, it also became the richest surf contest in the world.
In 2016, it felt like the event couldn’t get any better when John John Florence, the just-crowned world surfing champion, cemented his claim to best in biz when he won the still-sponsored-by-Quiksilver, although barely, Eddie in wild 25-foot conditions.
What kind of value could you put on an event like that?
So how did such a fruitful relationship, which included the lucrative sale of Eddie Aikau-Quiksilver merchandise, wind up in the gravel, pecking for worms?
Here’s the background: the previous ten-year contract was expiring in the spring of 2016 and Quiksilver and the Aikau family began negotiating a new deal.
The Aikau family were advised that a potentially better deal might be out there if they shopped around a little. Red Bull was in the mix, initially, but apparently, Red Bull and the WSL couldn’t find a way to play nice, so they pulled out at the last minute, leaving the Aikaus with no deal.
A source told BeachGrit multiple offers were submitted to the Aikaus by Quiksilver, all with increased revenue sharing opportunities, but all were rejected.
But here’s the thing.
Quiksilver owned the permits for the 2015-16 contest and even canvassed the idea of calling it a different name to circumvent the need to involve the famous Hawaiian family.
Quiksilver played around with The Quiksilver: In Memory of Jose Angel, The Quiksilver: In Memory of Todd Chesser, The Quiksilver: In Memory of Brock Little.
Anyway, it worked out for 2016 but was terminated shortly after.
Did Quiksilver decide that the chances of The Eddie ever being as good as 2016 were so slim any subsequent money poured into it would be wasted?
The question I asked at the time was, would you, if gifted the keys to the clothing giant that was once famously six hundred million dollars in debt, continue to run with The Eddie?
Or would you pour the surplus money into your number one team rider Matt Banting?
Quiksilver chose Banting.