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Bombora showcases an extraordinary tale of how surfing has undergone total transformation from an obscure pastime enjoyment reserved especially for Hawaiian kings to become an obsession with Australians. Bombora features a rare archival footage of who’s who and takes us through a journey from early century pioneers to the 1960s and 1970s during the counter culture and finally shines a light on how Australian culture dominated the world. This documentary is just a summary of what is happening in the world: the surfing culture in Australia has become so popular and very profitable business (Thompson). This paper will analyze how surfing how and why surfing has emerged as a global business and how surfing’s iconic status has propelled it to sell products.
The Surfing Culture and Why It Has Emerged a Global Business
The Bombora documentary highlights some of Australia’s individualistic and reflective pastime that has inspired expansive thinkers. The documentary is about the history of surfing in Australia and argues that surfing is an Australian subculture that has become an embodiment of the country’s culture (Thompson). The documentary seems to pass the message that it is impossible to imagine Australia without thinking about ‘surfing.’
For several years now, surfing has been a ‘silent’ religious culture due to its emphasis of being close to nature in a soulful way (Flint 1999). The 1970s saw the advent of professional surfing saw an emerging string of Australian heroes that could become international stars. These included Mark Richards, Michael Patterson, and The Bronzed Aussies among others. A change of nature then brew from the soul surfers to a new clean cut money oriented surfers who were promoted by businesses interests. They were especially interested in selling clothes and equipments. Surf culture is now disseminated through the media to promote products and other stuff raking in billions of dollars in the global industry. Jose (2011) estimates that by 1997, it had generated more than $7 billion and was controlled by such companies like Quicksilver, Billabong, Rip Curl among other across more than 70 countries. Other global companies like Motorola, chevron, Hobie and coca cola (Jose 2011), Globe international, The adidas Group, Volcom Inc., O’Neill, Naish International and AJW Surfboard (Surfing: A Global Strategic Business Report) among other companies have used surfing images to promote their products, further making surfing a global business. According to the China Weekly News (2011), the surfing industry is rebounding from post-recession and will hit a market value of more than $13 billion by 2017.
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The big question is: why has the surfing become so popular and how has it achieved global success in business. According to the Report: Specific Strategies Needed to Target Women Surfers, the main driver of this has been the initiative of surfing equipments, associations and marketers that have made surfing approachable. This is achieved through rollout of artificial reefs and public surfing facilities. They also cite the fact that surfing has become a fashion trend and has been able to manifest itself as a multi-billion-dollar market while increased affordability and accessibility has made surfing attractable to more people. Longboards that make surfing easier are becoming very popular and have contributed to the growth of the sport. The growth of surf schools, the ‘coolness’ and ‘style’ associated with surfing has seen a surge in popularity of the sports and the number of its participants. The growth of this sport has seen professional surfing associations try to cash in through educational and sport promotional programmed that are especially designed for new surfers.
As shown by the Bombora documentary, Australia’s love for surfing lies with the country’s love for culture and has managed to become an important sub-culture in Australia. The Bombora documentary has relevance to Australian history, cultural studies and the media. Its shows the country’s own history where surfers were treated with hostility by the government but the fortunes has recently changed for the better (Thompson). Since the 1970s, early Australian company Kuta Lines was founded as a surfwear. Later, other international brands shown above were incorporated into surfing. These international brands (businesses) are the major sponsors for surfing competitions and a new trend called surf tourism has developed. This has further seen the surf culture being globalized as a result. The Surfing: A Global Strategic Business Report reports that surfing apparels and accessories market is used not only by participating surfers but also to consumers who purchase all that surfing is associated with. Because the demographic profile of most surfers and the high margins associated with the group, surfing apparels are as important as surfing equipments. That is why leading sportswear like adidas have emphasized on concept of sport apparels that appear to be fashionable and dynamic to its consumers (Jose 2011).
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Flint (1999) says that the consumption of the surf culture has spread quiet fast and has taken the form of surfing equipments, wetsuits, and accessories like leg ropes, wax while others include clothing, documentaries (like the Bombora) and surfing magazines. This has seen a rise in global tourism while remote locations (like Mecca or the Island of Nia in Indonesia) have embraced surf tourism over the last few years. Reports (from the head of surfing Australia) indicate that more than $30 million was spent on surf accessories, $32 million on wetsuits, $38 million on surfboards and further $230 million clothing. This is a clear way in which the surf culture has been expressed. Most stuff associated with surfing like magazines have become very popular and have helped perpetuate the surfing lifestyle. These magazines contain tones of advertisements while surf music is also becoming popular among surfers. Surf movies and television have also been used to perpetuate the growth of surfing and surf tourism.
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The Future of Surfing
According to the report by Flint (1999), surfing will continue to institutionalize and will mostly be driven by the association of surfing professionals. Mass media will help propagate its growth through magazines, television, the popularity of the internet, through movies and documentaries (like the Bombora documentary). The use of social media has also increased the popularity of this sport. Globalization has continued to increase while markets have remained open in surfing countries throughout the globe including the Philippines, Indonesia and in South America. Some people predict that eco-tourism will become integrated with surf tourism. As global money increases, the perception of surfers will become more mainstream but the ideologies of early Hawaiians will forever remain (Flint 1999).
From the documentary Bombora, we get to realize that surfing has undergone a major transformation; it has changed from an obscure sport to one that is enjoyed by Australians and many people around the world. The surfing culture in Australia has become so popular and very profitable business generating billions of dollars yearly. Through the use of documentaries, magazines, TV programmes, and the social media, surfing has been made a famous sport by such bodies like the association of professional surfers. The sport has now become a multi-billion dollar industry. International brands like adidas and Coca Cola among do get associated with surfing in their advertisements. And that is why the industry is projected to grow to more than $13 billion by 2017. The surfing industry and tourism prospects look generally bright and are bound to continue growing in the foreseeable future.
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