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Don Brown on marketing the GvR contest

By Tiffany Montgomery
October 08, 2007 5:50 AM

I stopped by the concert and party Saturday night for Etnies GvR skate contest. The event attracted about 18,000 people over the weekend and is parent company Sole Technology's biggest event of the year.

april littlejohn, yasmin hume, ashton maxfieldApril Littlejohn with Sole Tech’s Yasemin
Hume, director of
marketing communications,
and Ashton Maxfield, PR manager.
yeah yeah yeahsThe Yeah Yeah Yeahs performed at a
free concert in the Sole Tech parking lot.


sole tech beer


I ran into Don Brown during the concert, who dreamed up the event several years ago. We didn't have a chance to talk much business when I saw him Saturday (Don to Tiffany: "Montgomery, isn't that a Scottish last name? You must be a good drinker then!), but I followed up with some email questions over the weekend.

It was pretty cool to see the Etnies reach in action. I wanted to know more about how the event - where teams compete based on a right foot forward or left foot forward stance on a skateboard - came about and how effective it is as a marketing tool.


Don was nice enough to answer these questions for me Sunday.

1. Where did you get the idea for the contest?

"The idea of Goofy vs. Regular came about because I felt regular contests were missing something - they've become somewhat predictable, and the weight is all on individuals winning rather than as a team. With etnies GvR my goal was to bring everyone together as two teams, build competitive friction between them both, and most importantly have fun!!! It is refreshing to go to an event and see the best skaters in the world battling it out for their stance to win. All the riders I talk to say it is their favorite contest of the year. With Regular winning this year, it's tied at 2-2, so Regular is in the game again! We're also expanding the event into surf (Oct. 19-21) and snow (Feb 2008) events to add excitement to these sports."


2. How important of a marketing vehicle is it for etnies?


"As one of the largest skate contests of the year, the etnies GvR contest brings together the world's top pro skaters, grouped by stance, and gives the brand international recognition. While the contest markets the brand, first and foremost the etnies GvR gives back to skateboarding by hosting a legitimate contest weekend with a $100,500 prize purse."


3. What's the importance of the live web cast?


"There are skateboarders all over the world that want to see the top pro skateboarders compete, but of course not all of them can come to Lake Forest, California this weekend and see the contest live. The etnies GvR live web cast is really important to us because it let's kids from the all over the country and the world watch the contest live."

don brown handstandDon Brown, senior vice president of marketing for Sole Technology of Lake Forest. Don’s a former professional skateboarder who joined Sole Tech 19 years ago. Don can still do a handstand and he’s quite the businessman.He helped CEO Pierre André Senizergues build the company to approximately $200 million in sales.

I also found out that Sole Tech manages the whole weekend event in house to keep control and make sure it comes off just how they want. Event manager Mark Waters gets credit for making it all happen, according to Yasemin Hume, director of marketing communications.

Another tidbit: Sole Technology CEO Pierre André Senizergues wasn't around this weekend because he was at his sister's wedding in Paris.

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