Is Red Bull taking over surfing?

August 13, 2014 | Surfing
Kolohe Andino: the Red Bull sticker gives him wings

Yes, the world's most famous energy drink is taking over surfing. As you might have noticed, the surf industry is suffering deep changes. Will the "Big Four" keep up as we know them? No, Red Bull is increasing the pressure on the conservative surf industry market.

Rip Curl, Quiksilver, Billabong and O'Neill. For more than two decades, these were the brands that we would traditionally see on the shelves of our local surf shops.

But the classic surfing oligopoly is quietly giving in. Small brands are growing, and the new generation of surfers is chasing new niche concepts, when it's time to buy surf wear, and surf gear.

Red Bull is growing in surfing, too. Not only they've been producing the best surfing videos, but they're also increasing the sponsorship levels with competitive and professional free surfers. We must admit that selling cans is no different from selling boardshorts.

The brand founded in 1987 by Dietrich Mateschitz is more than an energy drink producer. Today, events with the Red Bull logo are everywhere, and surfing contests are no exception. They've got new rules, creative formats and out-of-the-box judging criteria.

It seems obvious that Red Bull's avid interest in motorsports, bikes, skateboarding, cliff diving and snowboarding has been extended to wave sports such as kiteboarding, windsurfing and surfing. Only bodyboarding seems out of the equation.

Red Bull has closed contracts with top surfers including Jamie O'Brien, Julien Wilson, Michel Bourez, Adriano de Souza, Mick Fanning, Jordy Smith, Kanoa Igarashi, Kolohe Andino, Gabriel Villaran, Sally Fitzgibbon, Carissa Moore, and many others.

Maya Gabeira: she collects Red Bull hats

The Austrian brand is also playing trumps in the big wave surfing arena. Maya Gabeira, the fearless Brazilian who nearly lost her life in Nazare, is in the team. Add Carlos Burle, Ramon Nazarro, and Ian Walsh, and the damage is done.

Red Bull is giving surfers new wings. Whether the energy drink is opening doors to innovative surfing events or gluing stickers on the surfboard's nose, the truth is that the company is in the sport at the highest level.

What will be Red Bull's next step in global surfing? Sponsoring the ASP World Tour and the world's best surfers? In 2013, Red Bull's annual turnover reached five 5.04 billion euros (6.73 billion dollars). That may be enough.

Company Turnover in 2013

Red Bull > $6.73 billion
Quiksilver > $1.81 billion
Billabong > $1.34 billion
Rip Curl > $400 million
O'Neill > not available

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