Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Death of Reef's Asspirational Marketing Strategy

Here's a little story about what happens when you build your brand based purely on the objectification of women...

In 1984 two Argentinian brothers Fernando and Santiago Aguerre started up a company making sandals. 

Fernando is the one dressed as a curtain

Then they had to find a way to flog those sandals, and the method they chose is proudly described by the company website:

"Inspired by the notoriously beautiful women of the beaches in South America, the brothers saw an opportunity to introduce the surf market to an exotic element that they called Miss Reef. Never revealing her face or identity, the brothers used the intrigue of Miss Reef to help convey their idea of the surf lifestyle." 


"The first advertisement involving Miss Reef was rejected from the surfing magazines for the controversial content, but after some convincing [money], the ads finally ran. The surfers who read the magazines were instantly intrigued by the exotic and beautiful figure in the ads. Since then, Miss Reef has become a global icon of the surfing community. She has remained an integral component of Reef's DNA, and can easily be attributed to the success of Reef."

And for almost 30 years they've continued to pursue a dedicated ass-focused marketing strategy.

Somewhere in the middle of that period Reef were all over snowboarding. This was one of the ads from the first edition of Whitelines we reviewed the other week.

Strangely they used shots of Jim Rippey from the front rather than focusing on his pert 'intrigue'. 

One of the things they also brought to snowboarding were their Miss Reef competitions. These weren't the sort of competitions which celebrate the snowboarding prowess of women, they were more the sort of competition where horny men judged women's arses...

Green guy was forced to hastily improvise to cover his impromptu boner

And they publicised those competitions and Reef, by lining up women in neat rows...

sometimes at a slightly different angle to break things up

sometimes the other side

sometimes in different tops

when the opportunity arose, in swimming pools

often with beer

frequently with beer, while being gawked at by a horde of guys

and in one particularly memorable occasion, in clown costumes?

Of course, Reef wanted to show that women could do more than just be judged for their pertness and standing in rows. Occasionally Reef girls were allowed to drape...

That was a little close, we almost saw their faces for a moment. There's a danger we could start treating them as individuals and not just "intregue" objects if that happened. 

That's better. Draped by the swimming pool

And all the poses combined. Almost the full range of skills the Miss Reef girls were expected to manage.

There was just one other skill, and this was the last Reef favourite, marching in formation up stairs.

Sadly for Reef, despite their best efforts to build a market in snowboarding based on the back(sides) of the Miss Reef girls, things didn't work out in the long-term and we don't see them round these hills any more.

It wasn't just snowboarding, even in their surf culture mainstay, their ability to use of women's arses to promote their brand has been tailing off. After thirty prolific years of Miss Reef photoshoots, calendars and competitions it seems like Reef are being forced to drop this bottom-feeding marketing strategy. Their last calendar was produced in 2013, the once proud Miss Reef section of their site has been quietly been dropped and all that is left is some of that old calendar content on their European site and a few sorry looking t-shirts no one is going to buy if they ever have any ambition of getting laid with an actual woman.

It was a marketing strategy with a few flaws right from the start; it alienated half of their potential market straight away and most of the rest of the market don't really want to wear a brand that makes them look like they're publicly celebrating soft-porn. Despite that there was a niche market that was a moneymaker for Reef for many years, but fatality in snowboarding and unhealthily elsewhere, time told for this dated approach as even the guys that used to love buying their product because they wanted to celebrate the butts of some unidentifiable women, have slowly realised it might be just slightly misogynistic.

So now Reef are forced to reinvent themselves and find a new way to market their brand, which won't be an easy job by any means and it's unlikely they'll ever work their way back into snowboarding. 

It's the (rear) end of a very strange era in marketing.

Of course, the alternative is that they could keep the strategy, and try out a new market. After all as we proved just a few months ago skiers are quantifiably arse men.

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1 comment:

  1. PARTYMASTERBIGDICKBLAZE420November 11, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    Oo looks like ya spoke too soon brah, miss reef calendar 2015 is on the shelves and under my bed (don't want my mom to find it, that'd be so mizz)


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