Baby Take it Off!: Goodnight, Sweet Princess

posted by / Blogs / November 27, 2012

Nike's withdrawal from surf was announced to the athletes yesterday on the North Shore. Apparently Julian Wilson, pictured here in Reunion Island, was the most upset of the team members. Photo: Ryan Miller Nike’s withdrawal from surf was announced to the athletes yesterday on the North Shore. Apparently Julian Wilson, pictured here in Reunion Island, was the most upset of the team members. Photo: Ryan Miller


Baby Take It Off!

On January 4, 2011 I welcomed Nike to our surf world with a warm embrace. I was excited to see them drop the very misguided 6.0 moniker and become what they always should have been. Nike Surf. A titan of our industry. I felt that Nike’s inclusion would diversify our market, forcing innovation all over the place. I felt that their non-core principles would be a breath of fresh air. I felt that massive influxes of dollar bills are never bad. I am, after all, as unapologetically capitalistic as I am unapologetically journalistic. A very fine mélange.

And Nike hit the ground running, crafting an amazing surf team including beautiful Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, Michel Bourez, Koa Smith, Laura Enever. They title sponsored The U.S. Open of Surfing and it was the most randy, wild contest week ever. They created surf ads that ran during the Super Bowl. It was all happening. They were fulfilling my dreams.

But today, less than two years after entering, Nike is bidding adieu. There is no more Nike Surf. It is finished and only a cloud of uncertainty remains. They still own Hurley and that will be the face of Nike in the water but there will be no more swoosh. No more “just do it.”

Why? Nike is being tight-lipped, even to me, the unapologetic journalist, but I would have to guess that the powers that be looked at the bottom line and thought, “It costs very much to be part of this surf world and we get very little in return.” They are correct. Our surf world is a hard hard nut, but, really, the powers that be should have produced a decent boardshort. Theirs were too long and the colors were all wrong. They should have produced a “dawn patrol sweatsuit” taking their existing black, trim jogging suit and adding a layer of cashmere inside to protect against the biting cold California fog. They should have produced a boat-necked t-shirt that hung a bit long, striped blue and white with a tag reading, “il suffit de faire” inside. They should have actually taken their beautiful team, randy contest, big-budgeted ad campaign and used it to move the best product our surf world had ever seen. But alas, they did not. And now they are finished.

Many will dance upon Nike’s grave and laugh but not me. I weep. I weep whilst laying a bouquet of white roses near their headstone. I weep whilst reading them a love poem. Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet princess and flights of angels sing thee to rest.

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  • Chad

    Yrs ago in 1996 another company had approached me about their huge world wide company wanted to get into surfing.So I worked with them 3 yrs in a row At the Surf Expo in Orlando.They managed to get into many skate,surf and other stores.Then on the 3rd yr he said this is not worth it he showed me one order from a chain store in malls that was in the high 6 digit range for just jeans.After seeing his total order for the spring I said why are you trying to bother with the small surf world.The numbers don’t work

  • GildasC

    The right meaning of “Just do it” in french is “Fais le” mate
    But “alas”, I know that word is definitely not english, neither french.
    I guess you meant “hélas” 😉

  • PBHB

    Nike was never a Surf company. They were a main clothing sponsor. As far as I know, the only main clothing sponsor to ever only have one item: The Legacy boardshort, in about 4 color ways and two pusshead collabs. What did they expect? Nike is the largest and most creative company in the sporting world, constantly pushing the look and style of a sport, and they couldnt come up with anything else? I liked seeing Kolohe and Nat in “just do it” and 49s T’s. But without a clothing line to sell, how can they be upset with sales? Gottta give some to get some Nike

  • IsoceleseTriangle

    While still a bit effeminate and Bowie-esque in sexual tone and tenor, these are the first words written by this man I actually did not thow-up upon myself while reading. And for that one fact alone I am, I suppose, grateful…

  • Norcal

    That’s three for me, Chas. Congrats. Too bad Nike gave up. This notion that surfing is “selling out” is laughable. It sold out the day they let the garmentos from OC and LA control the industry back in the 80’s. Point being that I agree with PBHB that they didn’t make a good effort. Good design always wins, especially if you have money. Surfing, in the long run, could have really used a mainstream company to take it to the next phase. There are already plenty of kook LBs, SUP, and wanna be tough guys showing up because they train at the local mma club. Why not benefit? Instead, we just get the downside…

  • yeah guy

    LOL…. Just because you can’t see the Swoosh, doesn’t mean that the Swoosh isn’t there. Nike will be controlling one of the biggest names in the industry, puppeteering the brand away from the limelight. ‘You know I – thug em, **** em, love em, leave em,
    cause I don’t ****in’ need em!’ Is anyone really surprised? Its a shame, surf needs Nike more than Nike needs surf.

  • Marky Marc

    This is the wordiest piece of shit I have ever read… Get to the point mate, I know your writing to an audience full of retards but this is just plain shit man..

    However, i do agree its a shame to see nike go and i also think i know why. Surf shops wont buy nike shit and if retailers wont buy your shit you have no business. I like nike, alot more than pretty much any other surf company (except Oneill of course) but surfers are fucking idiots and wont buy their shit because its not “cool” in surfing.

    its a shame how pathetic surfing is.. i remember 12 years ago surfing was cool, now its fucking gay as shit. everyone and their mom thinks they can surf, pussy ass wanna be hipster pros, industry bros who cant even catch a wave on the webcast, shit as writing, extremely biased editorials, its all SHIT every last drop of it, and it bums me the fuck out.

    im also sick of seeing fucking weak ass air reverses, they arnt even hard to do…

    step up your fucking game SURFING.. your blowing it


  • aniie

    the surf media world weeps too. no more nike double page ads, web banner buy outs, cover buy outs… and the surf team weeps.. no more shopping sprees at nike santa monica, no more tickets to grand slam tennis, no more photoshoots with annie leiberwitz.

  • Jamie-Andrea Yanak

    Nike isn’t interested in doing any of those things you mentioned. We’re talking about a company that makes low-quality, shoddy goods, made by slave-laborers, then convinces people to buy them by hyping them to high-heaven with celebrity athlete paid-endorsements. If they spent half the money they did on advertising on improving their products, their stuff wouldn’t fall-apart as quickly as it does. Nike=Junk. Always has.

    Good riddance, Nike!

  • twenty years too old

    vapid hyperbole.. typical c. smith writing.
    no actual journalism from Surfing, just subjective banter.
    I guess the 10-16 year old target marketed mind understands this crap. I’m too old to bother with this rag.

  • Leo

    Lets all face it once and for all. Surfing is an art, not a sport. Dumbass Nike is like a chick you knew was too good to be true. She never put out. Nike can focus on whoring herself to running, tennis, golf, basketball, football, and baseball. Any real surfer should just learn from it and pretend it never happened.

  • yeah guy

    @Leo – Well said, let me know see if I understand your stupid comment. You compare Nike to a girl that is too good to be true, because she doesn’t put out? But you want Nike to focusing on ‘whoring out’ on other ‘sports’? So if she/Nike are whoring out, wouldn’t that make her/Nike great… in your eyes? I am no surfer, but what I am suppose to forget never happened and what should I learn from it?

    Also, please, remember to swing by your local clinic and grab some taxpayer condoms. Our gift to you.

  • mitch ecsc surfchampion

    surfing is awesome i surf for a living without surf i die

  • Jay

    The problem is, kids in Ohio don’t surf. Kids in Dallas, Chicago, Memphis, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, etc don’t surf. The overwhelming majority of the U.S. population does not surf. When the overwhelming majority does not surf, there is no money to be made in surfing. You can’t sell the latest and greatest surf gear, to people that could care less about surfing. People in the midwest and east coast, would rather be wearing Abercrombie and Fitch than Billabong clothing. Most people in the U.S wouldn’t know Kelly Slater if he came up and said hello to them and slapped them on the booty. The world does not care about surfing. To the average joe, surfing is stupid and pointless.

  • bert

    Nike leaving the surf industry is totally unimportant. It won’t change nothing for your usual surfer, and it won’t change nothing as far as competition goes.
    It could change the amount of dollars in some pro surfers’ pockets, something I must admit I won’t give a single shit, and as always in the business, there will be richer and poorer business guys, which is even more not my business!

    @Gildas: Even though Chas is speaking french like a spanish cow (this is french!), “il suffit de [le] faire” is a better translation than “juste fais le”, or even “fais le”!

    And “alas” is the only word you should have remember from Shakespeare, don’t you know a guy called Yorick? No he wasn’t a Nike rider.

  • tony (ty) carson big isalnd

    Well, maybe their is still hope for the tribe, maybe they can still smell a phony profiteering company just out to make a buck. After all, what real surfer, worth his salt and in his right mind, would want to wear something from a mainstream track and field shoe company. Now we have to go after Hurley, (boycott), a company owned by nike, (a track and field shoe company). Hurley, a company started by a mediocre, half baked shaper from Huntington Beach, (bob hurley), who had the giant ego to name the company after himself. Now we have a bunch of clueless wannabess walking around with his name on their back or chest. Real surfers got rid of nike, now lets get rid of hurley, a company owned by nike.