Corporate America has been trying to break into snowboarding for the past 30 years, and those of us who are still pretending Volcom never went public have been laughing at it the whole time.
It was the dramatic back lit product shot of a soccer cleat in the opening credits that gave it away. “Naturally”, Jake Blauvelt’s personal film project with adidas that premiered Friday night at the Experience Music Project, was the cross-marketed miss I figured it would be. Maybe the shoe giant thought a rider passionate about the brand would be the best person to tell their story, but Jake’s enthusiasm for the brand is exactly what makes the movie fail.
Jake packs a soccer ball in his snowboard bag and juggles at the snowmobile load-in for a warm up. In an actual voiceover from the movie he openly grieves for the high-school soccer team he left behind to pursue snowboarding. When he describes the choice between the two sports as a “tough decision,” I can imagine an adidas executive nodding vigorously while the rest of the snowboard community shakes its head.
An injury recovery scene a few minutes later pans between cross-fit, yoga, and gratuitous ab shots. If Jake wants to salute the sun like a chick on my Instagram feed, more power to him, but kettleballs are where I draw the line.
Adidas needs to realize that if they’re in multiple categories, they need to keep their marketing channels separate. In other words, don’t use fitness culture to sell snowboard culture.
I actually expected adidas to succeed. Mainstream sports companies have marketed my hater tendencies into submission before. When Nike gave ex-K2 pro Bobby Meeks the budget to hire riders like Austin Smith and launch progressive events like Snakes & Hammers and Rat Race, I forgot all about Nike ACG fleece vests and came around enough to stop talking shit. I also didn’t see anyone playing basketball in “Nevernot”.
Adidas is in a strange position because the push to mix soccer and snowboarding probably came from Blauvelt himself, who wanted to share his lifestyle. After all, Nick Dirks rides motorcycles, Travis Parker rollerblades, and Curtis Ciszek fly fishes, so why can’t Jake play soccer? Because the brand can’t stand on its feet as a snowboard brand yet. It’s too soon.
There’s still hope for adidas. If they cut the sports crap, pump money into events that progress snowboarding, and hire more than one rider, ten years down the road the company will be so established in snowboarding that a soccer opener will be ironic. Then we can finally laugh with corporate America, not at it.[If you can stand the voiceovers and sports, good movie.]