West 49 sweetens up skateboarding

The action sports retailer will soon launch a national media campaign in support of its marquee fall event, the West 49 Take the Cake skateboard contest. Sponsorship opps still available.

The trouble with the mass-market appeal for skateboard contests has traditionally been their extended duration and complicated format, Cindy Mielke, director of marketing, West 49, tells MiC. In an effort to sweeten up the format for a wider demographic, West 49 is this fall launching the Take the Cake skateboard event in Niagara Falls, ON.

Take the Cake,, with its $100,000 prize and star-studded lineup of skaters, will be presented more like a traditional sports event, Mielke says, with an accessible location and short-form format. The venue was selected for its high visibility to tourists, and proximity to the Toronto market, and organizers are hoping to fill the Oakes Garden Theatre’s 7,000-person capacity and then some – backup plans for overflow include taking over the park next door with seating and big screens.

‘This event we’re really gearing it to be all-ages, from kids to families,’ Mielke explains. ‘That’s why we chose this format. Traditionally in the past, skateboarding events have been three days long, 150 skaters, eight hours a day and that’s really hard for parents to watch, especially because they don’t understand the nuances of skateboarding. West 49 came up with this event format specifically to appease a customer with a short attention span.’

Title and presenting sponsorships are all but locked up, Mielke says, declining to name the prospective brands, but there are still many categories open for sponsorship, including a music sponsorship, amateur qualifying round sponsorship and sponsorships tied to the yet-to-be-finalized television and digital broadcast of the event. Media sponsors currently on board include the Sympatico.ca-owned Push.ca and SBC Skateboard magazine. Event activation is being handled by GTA-based EventSing promotions.

Even though the event is regional, the media plan to promote it is national, Mielke says.

‘I know that’s not traditionally the way that [regional] events promote themselves, but because this is about promoting West 49, the brands that we sell and the sponsors that come on board, we’re leveraging this across the country,’ she says. ‘We really see this as a national program.’

The media buy includes tags on West 49 commercials on specialty and conventional television in the key back-to-school season, starting in the last week of July and running through to the first week of September. After that, the tags will turn into full 30-second commercials promoting the event. Radio, OOH, regional print media (GTA, Niagara), in-store POP and direct mail are also included.

In addition, the event will be advertised in West 49′s back to school flyer, which goes out to 200,000 people nationwide through the retailer’s ‘All Access Pass’ loyalty program email database of 170,000, and its extended West 49 ‘member’ email database of 250,000.