Roxy Trailer Petition Delivery
Yesterday, September 12, 2013, Krista Comer (Professor of Literature and Women’s Studies at Rice University in Texas, and author of Surfer Girls in the New World Order) and I met with Danielle Beck (VP of Marketing) and Cathey Curtis (Senior VP of Marketing) at the Roxy Headquarters in Huntington Beach to deliver the signatures and comments of well over 20,000 supporters of the Change.org petition asking Roxy to stop using “all sex, no surf” ads in their marketing.
The meeting, which began at 3pm and lasted nearly 2 hours, was driven by the comments left by supporters of the campaign. We covered quite a bit of ground in the meeting and we left Beck and Curtis with a 45 page packet that they said they would read. The following represents some of the highlights of the packet and our conversation.
Included in the packet are studies (sociological and marketing reports) that confirm that sexualization does not help to sell product or events and that sexualization actually diminishes the perception of the talent of an athlete (both females and males). The only thing that sex sells, confirms these studies, is sex.
In addition to these studies, we left them information that highlights the negative effects of the sexualization and objectification of women in the media:
“The second question (How does sexualising female surfers impact surf culture?) revolves around the impact the current sexualising trend has on surf culture, specifically, the youth. The American Psychiatrists Association reported on the effects of such trends in 2010 (The Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualisation of Girls can be found in its entirety online). Among the many results found within the report (ranging from the effects of sexualisation on the mental, emotional, sexual, and physical landscapes of boys, men, women, and society as a whole), were studies that linked sexualisation with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood. These states of body anxiety affect performance in a tangible way. In one relevant study, college students were asked to try on and evaluate either a swimsuit or a sweater. While they waited for 10 minutes in a dressing room wearing the garment, they were asked to complete a maths test. The results revealed that young women in swimsuits performed significantly worse on the math problems than did those wearing sweaters. No differences were found for young men. Thinking about the body, the study concluded, and comparing it to cultural ideals detrimentally fragments the attention of women.”
( You can read the whole article in Cooler Magazine: Beyond Gidget )
Comer highlighted how uniquely positioned Roxy is within the surf industry to positively impact the trend of hypersexualization to be found within the surf culture because of
“The longstanding leadership role that Roxy has played in the surf industry when it comes to women’s surfing.”
This was also reflected in many of the comments from the petition we left with Roxy.
Discussing Emerging Trends
With an eye towards emerging trends in both media and marketing, I also included in the packet information on shifts away from sexualization.
GoDaddy last week publicly distanced themselves from past marketing that has been incredibly sexist and sexualizing. They have committed to maturing the brand image largely due to pressures from a similar campaign that erupted around last year’s Superbowl ad.
CrossFit, arguably the fastest growing fitness movement on the planet (and growing since the greatest recession since the Great Depression), is fundamentally grounded in gender parity. CEO Greg Glassman has made it a point to ensure that both women and men are equally represented, get equal prize money in their CrossFit games and uses a system that is not gender oriented when gauging the fitness evolution of participants.
Comer reflected on the last 10-15 years of Roxy’s representation of women’s surfing, from its inception to its current location within both surfing and the larger culture:
“There is a real opportunity here for Roxy to once again get ahead of the curve.”
Many petitioners asked questions specific to the trailer that were not met with a willingness to explore.
Both Beck and Curtis appreciated that so many people took the time to send in their thoughts and vowed to read the comments and the packet that was left with them. They talked about taking inspiration from the process of our conversations and connecting with their consumer base through the petition and trying to move forward from this point. They also expressed that there would be further conversations after they had the chance to sit with the information we had discussed and the research packet.
Many supporters of this campaign have asked “What’s next?” “Do we continue to boycott Roxy?” “Do we continue to expand the petition?”
I want to encourage everyone to continue sending me your comments via the petition and I will continue reading them and sharing them. I look forward to being able to update everyone again in the coming weeks after discussing with Roxy what they thought about the packet that we left with them. As one supporter shared with me last night, “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
(Note: Krista Comer and I just finished shooting a video summary about the meeting that will be posted here in a few days.)