The Hangtown Classic opens the outdoor MX season and has been around for 45 years. We took the BOMONSTER art and apparel show there to get my art out in front of a new crowd. The Dirt Diggers North motorcycle club puts on the event and did a great job organizing the previously strip mined valley into an dirt bike racers paradise. The racing was was excellent and the access to the riders and pits was made easy.
Putting on an event of this magnitude requires big money which requires fans who spend big money. Taking a page out of NASCAR's in-your-face barrage of sponsor brands, the actual race is only a backdrop to the real opportunity of getting brands and products in the minds and hands of a perceived high-value target – the 18-35 demographic. Understanding great marketing, I wasn't shocked at the big semi-truck rigs pulling into vendor row from Red Bull, Oakley, GoPro, FMF, Lucas Oil, etc. What shocked me was the way these brands debase their brand image by standing in front of million dollar rigs screaming into microphones like carnival hawkers begging the crowd to enter contests, liking them on facebook, and generally harassing the crowd to pay attention to them. Extremely loud and angry metal music vibrated through inferior sound systems assaulting the targeted and anti-targeted demographics all day.
Red Bull had a great display of extreme sport graphics but the Red Bull truck parked next to their display opened up into a 16' high DJ booth and video wall complete with a head banging, headphone-wearing DJ who cranked up the volume to 11+. Mr head banger DJ violated the airspace with a one-dimensional sampled electronic dance thump complete with F-word bomb lyrics for the whole family to cringe to without interruption for 8 hours. We endured the noise and the customer complaints and wondered if Red Bull's marketing team back at the office realized their long term brand image would be better served using their caffeinated sugar water money to celebrate the sport and not try to alienate the spectator experience.
Nonetheless, we appreciated the opportunity to be there as people really dug our work and it gave me a good insight into the crowd. The thing we heard over and over was that we were new and different. Of the 25,000 people in attendance more than half were wearing one of four famous brand name logos on their bodies. The people we impressed were the ones who appreciated the new. Marketers call them the leading edge trend setters. They don't buy because everyone else is wearing it, they buy because they like the unique. Someday when BOMONSTER is famous and one of the five famous brands, I will always remember the leading edge trend setters at Hangtown who came into our booth – not because we were shouting at them to enter a contest or trying to impress with our taste in obnoxious music – but because we stuck to what we know – art.
All photos by BOMONSTER except the photo of BOMONSTER by W.B.