I’d rather be a Surfer Girl than a Sex Toy – Roxy’s advertising Fail

I have been trying to learn to surf (with varying degrees of success) for the past ten years of my life. I’d like to think of myself as a surfer girl, even if only an aspiring one.

Here are some of the words that I, personally, associate with surfing:

According to Roxy – clothing brand and supposed supporter of female athletes and active women everywhere – it looks like I’ve been going about this all wrong!

The Roxy twitter account has this brief mission statement for its bio: “We bring inspiration to girls to dream big and have fun in and out of the water.”

Well, as long as they’re dreaming big while rolling around in bed being scantily clad, I guess…

This is Roxy’s recent promotion for their Roxy Pro Biarritz 2013 event (“an original blend of elite surfing & top class music”):


… Yeah. Where to begin.

A summary of shots would go something like this: scene-setting beach exterior, ocean view, ass, ass, ass, product placement, legs, ass, legs, back, ass, hand, legs, a bit more ass… mix and repeat. ‘Elite surfing’? Not so much.

It takes until 42 seconds into the ad before we see a surfboard – and thus, a hint of what this ad is supposedly about. I don’t know about the average advertisement viewer, but there’s no way that I’m going to be bothered sitting around for more than 40 seconds waiting for an ad to actually get to its point. Apart from anything else, this promotion has already failed purely on the basis of effective advertising.

It takes 63 seconds before we get our next glimpse of the ocean.

And it’s not until the 1:27 mark that any actual surfing takes place – and that’s only if you count paddling out, since this promotion for an ‘elite surfing’ event doesn’t bother to feature any actual, y’know, surfing.

It’s scary to think about how many professional eyes must have seen this ad before it went public. How many dozens or scores of people watched this and didn’t bat an eyelid? Was there not a single person in a boardroom somewhere who thought to say “Hey, wait a minute, perhaps we shouldn’t be quite so blatant about our objectification of a female sportsperson?”

This promo was not designed for women. This promo was not even designed for people who are interested in surfing.

Surfing, according to Roxy, is not actually about standing on a board and catching a wave, anyway.

Surfing is about being a faceless sex object.

I know, I know – it’s not like Roxy are the first brand to hit upon the spectacular idea of using sex appeal for promotion – but this is one brand that I actually liked, damnit. Generally I will refuse to wear anything that is clearly ‘branded’ with a logo or symbol. Roxy is one of the very few that I would make an exception for; after all, it’s pretty cool that they were the first dedicated female surf brand.

Now it seems that they’re just like any other boring, unimaginative, exploitative fashion line. Sigh.

The cherry on top of Roxy’s cake of fail was their reaction. When the social mediasphere blew up in their faces, instead of recognising their ludicrous mistake and apologising, they had this pathetic piece of PR spin to say (taken from their Facebook page):

‎#DAREYOURSELF. It’s our mantra. Whether you are athletic, smart, funny, sexy, daring, confident — we support whatever combination you choose to be. Women are complex and multi-dimensional. To ignore this fact is to ignore who we truly are. Obviously, there’s been much conversation around the video we recently released. We believe all athletes are naturally beautiful, in and out of the water. You certainly don’t have to be sexy to be an athlete, & we also believe it’s not wrong to be an athlete and to be sexy, if you choose to be. We don’t judge one to be better than the other & we don’t believe in excluding one for the other.

Thank you for the passionate thoughts shared on the video, & for expressing how much you respect women in surfing. Oh yeah, & for the parody, thanks for making us laugh.”

Women are “complex and multi-dimensional”?

You could have fooled me.

Hey Roxy – that sanctimonious, holier-than-thou bullshit really doesn’t make me feel any better, or any more keen to invest in your products. Try again.


The identity of the faceless woman in the ad is not yet confirmed (we’re supposed to guess, teehee, isn’t this fun, let’s play surfer-ass-bingo), although I’ve heard rumours that it might be 5-time women’s world champion, Australian Stephanie Gilmore. To scrub the blah-ness of that promo out of your brain, here’s a video of Gilmore doing what she does best:


Strength. Grace. Peace. Release. Natural. Joy. Courage. Power.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Daniel Ralph
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 09:15:25

    Even accounting for the “Sex Sells” factor, this ad is absurd. Considering how common it is for surfing videos to include the athletes in tiny bikinis, revealing at least as much as this ad does, at least they do so while including ACTUAL SURFING. “Sexing it up” and removing almost all evidence of surfing, how is that good advertising? They might as well have grabbed a random 2 minute porno clip and stuck a roxy logo at the end for all it has to do with the advertised event.


  2. Isabella
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 19:32:28

    I don’t see what the fuss is about… This promo video is meant to be a faceless girl because they’re trying to make people guess who is the latest surfer for Roxy. They have made a Part 2 video which reveals the surfer. Yes they could have gone about it differently but they also had Stephanie Gilmore’s consent, it was her choice to do this so why is everyone sticking up for women’s rights when she chose to be a part of the promo?!


  3. Jen
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 09:50:04

    Isabella – do you think it’s impossible for a woman to be sexist, or that it’s impossible for women to be under pressure due to professional and financial reasons? I don’t blame Gilmore for acting in the commercial, I blame the advertisers who thought it was a good promotional idea in the first place.


  4. Trackback: Roxy’s Nonpology for the Surfer-Butt-Bingo promo | Seriously Whimsical

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