A World Without CEOs

A world without CEOs

A World Without CEOs is a response to A World Without Pros. It’s a good piss-take on the Blitz’ site, although it would have been better if it had stuck to rational argument instead of the occasional name calling and profanity. Not that I have anything against profanity in general, but in this case I think it’s counterproductive. I just think it would be more effective without calling the IASC a bunch of morons. The “Don’t sue me. I’m just a poor skateboarder” page is kind of weak too. If you are going to make a statement, stand by it and don’t include a “just kidding” as an afterthought.

The general tone of the site straddles parody and seriousness. It’s pretty effective in calling out hypocrisy of the industry. Our stance at Skate and Annoy (or at least the editor’s) is that any company with production facilities in China or Mexico (except for Chinese or Mexican companies!) has no leg to stand on when complaining about blanks and shop decks undercutting their sales. The same goes for any brand that sells to major sports chain retailers such as Copelands or Zumiez or Pac Sun, etc. These outlets contribute to the death of core skate shops. Core skate shops do more to support a local scene than any of those entities. Local skate shops need blanks and shop decks to compete with the chain stores and mail order cheap setups.

There’s no doubt about it, if kids only bought shop decks and blanks, the collective world of skateboarding would be different, or would it? A shoe or clothing company can promote skateboarding and put out videos just as well as a skateboard manufacturer. For that matter, why not a record label? Is it essential for the common denominator to be a skateboard company? The skateboard industry has made skateboards a commodity by moving to a generic shape and graphics that change every other week. The roster-hopping pros and roster-dumping companies aren’t helping out their own causes either. The same goes sub-brands of distribution companies that just exist to make a quick buck and capitalize on a trend. Skateboard brands are like fly-by-night clothing companies that are hip for a year and then disappear. If you don’t have loyalty to your own brand, how can you expect loyalty from your customers and fans? Nobody likes a spoiled professional athlete or team owner. Face it, skateboarding is not a sub-culture anymore. It might as well be professional basketball.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of bigger skateboard companies existing. I enjoy the marketing pranks and personalities. The diversity in styles and videos make for a more entertaining life. Tod Swank seems level headed and honest about the whole thing:

What is the biggest threat to your business?

The commoditizing of our products, thus reducing available funding to do all the cool things that we all want to do: supporting skateboarders, making cool products, doing wacky advertising campaigns, making crazy videos, going on crazy trips to explore, and doing events to showcase our amazing riders.

What is you company’s stance on shop boards and blank products?

Out of moderation and unbalanced. We see it as the death of the pro scene, the making of videos, the magazines, and the scene of skateboarding overall. It’s the death of the entire support infrastructure, from manufactures to distributors and retailers. It’s the minimizing of what makes skateboarding great.

Without belaboring the point (Oops! Too late!) I’d like to say that the IASC is not an evil, it’s just an organization whose goal is to promote the interests of it’s members, which ironically include some manufacturers of shop decks. Heck, Jim Gray is even on the list of “Friends/Supporters” for A World Without CEO’s, and he is one! the IASC may not speak for every member in this case. It’s important to remember that the IASC is not the group responsible for A World Without Pros. These aren’t Vision Street Wear heydays, but once again the industry has made it’s own problems, and we’re not too inclined to feel sorry for them. We don’t want the major companies to go away, we just want them to stop being hypocrites – if the shoe fits. It must be getting bad for them to actually band together though, they are a notoriously backstabbing bunch.

Check out A World Without CEOs. It’s not perfect, but it raises some good points. It will be interesting to see who gets added to the list of supporters in the weeks to come. Also of interest, some correspondence and internal documents from some IASC members can be found here. I like the following:

Don’t be too subtle- we’re talking to 14 year olds, make it more direct so it doesn’t take them a lot of time/effort to get it, don’t make it too adult..

And…

If we create campaigns trying to sway skateboarders they will possibly rebel against it and go even more to non branded boards

Of course, the web site’s owner doesn’t vouch for the authenticity of any of the documents, so you have to take it with a grain of salt.

3 Comments

  1. A world with out millionaire pros. Support American made, working class skateboarding. SK8SCARECROW.
    Help Tony Hawk buy a third house, or Reynolds a new Cadillac, or help the little guys with superior quality products put dinner on the table?

  2. The authenticity of the documents seems hurt by the poor spelling and grammar. It doesn’t take a genius to skate, but bloody hell! I take point with the argument that mail order hurts small business. Mail order often is a good supplement to small business and encourages DIY ethics, which seems to be inherent in the skate world. Skate corporations are a double-edged sword; in one respect, it introduces a lot of people to the world of skating, while exploiting it and changing it on their money-hungry whim at the same time. Like in punk rock, there’s a backlash against “selling out,” but a lot of people get into popular bands and get into other independent labels and bands as a result.

  3. I’ma bit late, but I think you gave the site a fair review… except for the “just kidding” sentiment… I never backed down on anything I said, but since I was scanning in and reposting copywritten material, I thought it would be important to include mention of the Fair Use Doctrine, as I really didn’t want to get sued.

    Keep up the great work, S&A kicks ass!

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