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After several years of sponsoring the US Open in Huntington Beach and taking it to a whole new level, Nike and Hurley are moving on and will not sponsor the event in 2013 or thereafter.
Hurley CEO Bob Hurley and Nike Global Action Sports VP Sandy Bodecker answered some questions for me about the decision.
Hurley has sponsored the US Open for four years and Nike for three.
Bob Hurley: Hurley constantly strives to innovate, inspire, and evolve. Five years ago, before we committed to the US Open, only a small handful of the Top 44 even attended the event. But an unprecedented partnership with the city of Huntington Beach and IMG enabled us to change how the world looks at surf events.
Bob Hurley. Shop-eat-surf file photo.
Thirty of the top 32 attended in 2012. Close to a million kids came to watch their heroes over the course of nine days. Huntington Beach (Surf City USA) has regained its crown as one of the surf world’s most important arenas. We even saw “US Open”-style events attempted in New York and Brazil.
In many ways, we achieved the goals we set for ourselves at the US Open. Now it's time to export the magic created at the US Open and invest it into other aspects of our business, like a renewed athlete focus and new and exciting ways of connecting with millions of kids.
Sandy Bodecker: Over the last four years we’ve worked with IMG to make the US Open one of the most exciting sporting moments of the summer.
But we are always looking for new ways to connect with athletes and consumers. In the spirit of evolving, we are exploring new opportunities to help elevate the sport beyond the sand to new audiences around the world.
Bob Hurley: What’s good for the sport is good for the brand, and we’d like to think that the sport in general is in a better place after Nike Inc.’s sponsorship of the US Open.
Sandy Bodecker, Nike Global Action Sports VP. Shop-eat-surf file photo.
When 50,000 fans are on the beach screaming for Kelly Slater, that’s good for us. When close to a million kids are connecting with our brands both face-to-face and digitally each summer, that’s good for us. When skate, surf, art and music are living in harmony under one banner, that’s good for us.
So many wonderful things emerged out of the past four years of US Opens. The Agenda show, a massively successful retail center on the beach. A surfing level never before seen on the south side of HB Pier. Music concerts with crowds bigger than we could have ever imagined. And the nation’s best high schools competing on the big stage in our Walk the Walk fashion competition.
The US Open was good for Hurley because it proved what three major brands can do when they share a common vision. And it proved the value in putting the athlete and fan experience first before anything else. HB is where i learned to surf ... It was truly, a dream come true.
Sandy Bodecker: It's hard to match the experience of the world's best in sports, music and art coming together on the beach in one of action sports' most iconic locations.
At the end of the day, we helped one of the world’s most recognized surf and lifestyle events become an even more premium experience for everyone.
The exposure of an event that reaches millions is of course beneficial, but more importantly the US Open is a platform to try new ways of connecting with athletes and fans. We learned a lot about event retail, the athlete experience, consumer customization, merging surf and skate events – the list goes on and on.
See Page 2 for more