As in any professional sport, the athletes naturally brand themselves — whether they like it, plan it, or hate it, there are certain qualities that come to define athletes.
A simple example to start. Kobe Bryant, for the entirety of his career, outside of Los Angeles was the villain. An unapologetic psychopath. A silent, deadly assassin. Hated but respected.
In this article, I am going to explore the current branding of several professional surfers, providing critiques, suggestions, and observations. I apologize if I offend anyone, and I’m sure I will.
- Connor Coffin: Pensive Heartthrob As wholesome as they come, Connor Coffin reminds me of warm banana bread fresh out of the oven. A talented musician it would seem as evidenced through the many photographs of him with a guitar, Connor has effectively branded himself as the antithesis to the Noa Deanes and Creed McTaggarts of the surfing world. It’s not a bad play, but it’s not one that I particularly care for. Connor is so skilled at this imagery that he makes Jack Johnson look like Ozzy Osbourne. Although, I must admit, I’ve never heard Coffin play or sing or any of that — this is strictly a branding exercise. I once dubbed him the Golden Nugget of Glory, California’s last hope. I no longer feel he embodies this title, for he has transformed. No longer gold or a nugget, Connor Coffin has become the Pensive Heartthrob, California’s favorite jam puppy and, perhaps, last hope. That being said, those who brand themselves in this very warm light, usually have a dark side. One day, and I hope it’s soon, Connor’s dark side will reveal itself. Until then, however, I’ll still root for Connor and his demons. Coffin will always have a place in our hearts here at Surf Heater.
2. Gabriel Medina: Evil Overlord
Gabriel, simply put, must embrace his role and his brand, which has quite organically sprouted into the villain of the WSL. Gabriel is the Jafar of the League and it would behoove him, and us all, to grab his serpent staff and accept the\ role with open arms. Every great story pins good versus evil, and in surfing it should be no different.
Not everyone can play the villain, so young Medina should take this role as a compliment, and run with it. Become the Jafar you were meant to be, Gabriel. Fear not, for you will no power like you never have before. Embrace the dark side! Perhaps, Gabriel can recruit his stepfather Charlie to sit on his shoulder like Jafar’s trusty, loud-mouthed sidekick parrot, Iago. Actually, as it is now, that’s not so far from reality.
3. Julian Wilson: Prince Charming
I mean, look at this man. If he doesn’t scream Prince Charming then slap my ass and call me Nancy, because I’m going out tonight!
Every villain must, must, must have an adversarial prince with whom to go to battle against. Julian fits this mold and he does it with ease. Ever since he willingly paddled quite literally into the jaws of a Great White Shark to help Mick Fanning escape imminent danger, he has been the Surfing World’s Prince Charming. Now, if we could only get him a few more wins and lodged like broccoli between buck teeth in the running for a World Title. The stage with its bright lights will soon be set. The marquee matchup: Good vs. Evil. Let us drink. Let us dine. Let us sing. Onward.
Coming up next: the Aging Master, Boy Wonder, and a String Cheese Spirit Guide…