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Palladini on the business of Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

By Tiffany Montgomery
November 13, 2009 5:30 AM

The first event in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing got underway this week with the Reef Hawaiian Pro. We asked Vans Vice President of Marketing Doug Palladini some questions about this year's contests, including the $1 million total purse, new marketing initiatives and what the series does for Vans' business.

Doug PalladiniHow important is the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing to Vans business?

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) represents our commitment to surfing, in the Vans 43-year tradition of showing leadership in action sports while always giving back. Providing the platform that brings the entire surfing industry and culture to the North Shore of Oahu for six weeks each winter affords us a unique opportunity to remind surfers the world over of Vans dedication to our roots as the original action sports brand.

How involved is the Vans marketing and the Vans executive teams in the events?

Very. It's actually more than "involvement." It's woven into the fabric of what we do. Sales, product, marketing, retail. Everyone is a part of bringing the series to life each winter and progressing the 26-year tradition. When I came to Vans, this was one of the things I most looked forward to working on, and being able to work directly with a legend such as our VTCS Executive Director Randy Rarick is a true honor.

The prize money this year is $1 million - the most ever. How was the VTCS able to make that happen when budgets are tight everywhere?

I have been participating in the process with my ASP peers of adding value to the Dream Tour and it's been a real awakening for me. Prize money is one of several issues we have addressed as a group, along with tour format and media visibility, as was announced coming out of our meetings in Spain last month. I thought it would send the right message if Vans were to puts its money where our proverbial mouth is, to be part of the solution as opposed to always pointing up the problems. It's simply a great way to share our thanks for all the amazing success we have enjoyed since 1966.

Anything new this year with the different contests?

The biggest addition to 2009 is the Vans Triple Crown Triple Threat. Because we have three huge titles on the line this year, we are offering a $50,000 bonus to the winner of the men's VTCS and a $25,000 bonus to the women's winner, a $50,000 bonus to the winner of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, a $50,000 bonus to the winners of the Men's 2009 ASP World Title. In addition to the extra cash for the winners, we hope to bring more mainstream visibility to surfing. Early results seem to be proving out our hypothesis that the additional prize money is driving interest.

Will Vans be hosting retailers at the event?

More than ever. Watching a webcast is good, but being there in person to feel the sand rumble under your feet as Pipe breaks is another thing altogether. A trip to Hawaii for our best Vans Surf retail partners is a great way to say thank you.

Any estimates of how many people will attend the different events and watch them online?

Our data shows that the VTCS is the most watched action sports event in the world. Over the six weeks, with a live webcast, thousands of media outlets reporting online, in broadcast and in print, and Fuel TV's non-stop television coverage, total media impressions are in the hundreds of millions.

Any special webcast promotions/innovations?

Almost too many to mention, but I am perhaps most looking forward to seeing our VTCS iPhone app come to life. It will be the first time an action sports event is available live on a mobile device, with a live webcast, live scoring and real-time news. We are working through acceptance with Apple now and hope to have it available in the iTunes store shortly.

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