Steam Whistle stylizes skateboards

The beerco teams up with Vans to enhance a contest that brings skateboarding style and design together.

Steam Whistle has partnered with Vans to put an artistic twist on skateboards and skate shoes, an attempt by the beerco to reach out to the artistic and athletically inclined.

‘Design-a-Deck was born out of a desire to tap into the potential and power of the cultural decision makers involved in the art and extreme sports communities,’ says Meghan Mesheau, field brand manager, Steam Whistle Brewing. ‘Building brand awareness, we wanted to not just support other arts festivals and events, but actually create events that we own and legitimately support artists. Attaching it to the skateboard culture, and including Vans, was another great extension of this.’

Like other programs that have seen brands unleash dormant artsy predispositions by leveraging user-generated work, the Design-a-Deck contest puts out a call to Canadians to submit a concept to decorate skateboard decks. The contest takes place in Calgary, where it’s in its third year, and Toronto, where it’s in its second. A new addition this year is that selected artists will also design a pair of Vans shoes that are aesthetically linked with their newly designed board. That component of the contest is only taking place in Calgary, where the program was conceived, and if successful, it will be exported to Toronto.

‘[Vans] really embody a lot of the same spirit that Steam Whistle does,’ says Michaud. ‘It’s another product that ties really well into that whole crowd.’

The contest, says Mesheau, also hits a demo a little younger than its core of craft beer-drinking dudes aged 25 to 35 years old, establishing awareness so that once they hit the age range where premium beer is affordable, they’ll come back to the brand.

Participants are given no limits on how they choose to decorate their decks – painting, carving, etching; it’s all good – except that their design must incorporate the Steam Whistle brand in some way. The program has garnered growing success year over year. Michaud says that since it began, it’s resulted in greater brand awareness in both markets. The Toronto iteration has experienced a 30% increase in submissions since it kicked off in 2009, with this year’s edition wrapping up on Sept. 27.

The Calgary contest gets underway with a call for submissions on Oct. 1 and a deadline set for Oct. 24. Entries will be juried and selected artists will be given a blank deck on which to apply their design for resubmission by Nov. 14. Those artists will be awarded a $150 honorarium and will have their designs displayed to the public on Steam Whistle’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

The beerco will also throw a party on Nov. 19 to showcase the designs, after which they’ll be put up on display in Steam Whistle licensee bar and restaurants where patrons will have the opportunity to win them through a draw. The Toronto winners are set to be announced on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. The contest was promoted through media relations handled by St. Catharines, ON.-based OEB Enterprises, WOM via Steam Whistle’s licensees and contacts in the skate and art communities, and flyers and posters the brand designed in-house.