CEO of the Month: USA
OCEANWORX is a global sports marketing, media production and distribution founded by international media authority David Jones in the year 2000. Prior to that, Jones was a professional extreme skier and skateboarder, a self- proclaimed ‘ski bum’ and considered a pioneer of professional extreme sports media communication. We spoke to him on how his passion for sports became the foundation for the highly successful business he runs today.
Emerging from humble beginnings, David had no idea that his time spent skiing and skateboarding would eventually lead him to forming his own marketing business. “Back in the day, in what seems like a 100 years ago, I used to do a lot of skiing and skateboarding videos,” says David. “I used to do stunts for catalogue shoots for ski brands and got to know photographers who would book me. I got more involved with extreme sports events and with the help of the photographers and videos we shot the media became interested in what we do and started reporting on us. Low and behold, major companies like Red Bull and Swatch etc. came into play to sponsor or organize major events and insiders like myself were brought in to build credibility. Basically, I was creating a profession out of being a ski bum!”
As time went on, David went on to form his own company Oceanworx who provide a diverse range of marketing services that span across the entire spectrum of sporting activities. “In a nutshell, my company is a sports marketing and media agency,” says David. “I help brands to better communicate their activities, develop content for any kind of media and build credibility with their fan base. I create, write and film content for companies in the sports area and further help brands with issues like what kind of events or athletes they should sponsor, and basically guide them along their way to a successful brand communication.”
When describing their marketing strategy, David makes a rather interesting analogy where he compares their work to the work of the ocean, hence the name ‘Oceanworx’. “The ocean has a very subtle but powerful way of influencing and shaping things with a long lasting result”, explains David. “And this is precisely the way we work. We assess the situation, influence and shape matters to have a long lasting impact for our clients.”
In terms of his approach towards clients, David sums it up in one simple phrase: ‘keeping it real’. “It’s my personal philosophy that we are real with our clients and everyone we work with. Naturally, we meet people who don’t like that, they rather have the classic sales pitch, but this is not the way I like to work. I am straight and honest and this is something our clients really appreciate. Everyone is different and some people like BMWs, some like Mercedes, but this is my personal style and is what has served my company well over the years. Above all, my company was founded on the values of sports, which is bring people together.”
Another value behind Oceanworx is to be as environmentally responsible as possible. As a person who is passionate about skiing, David believes that protecting the climate that facilitates for sports such as these is of the utmost importance. “The environment is a big issue for me personally,” says David. “For example, over the past ten years we have reduced the paper use by 90%, almost everything is digital. Of course, I fly a lot so I do have a carbon footprint, but I also decided to minimise my footprint by working with specialized freelancers according to projects, which allows me to control our environmental impact as a company. If you look at free skiing/riding or surfing, you need the environment. If we don’t have that, we all have no business.”
Despite the unconventional nature of the business, Oceanworx were no exception to the number of companies who had to adapt and react to the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. “We originated from the production and distribution world, helping organise events and producing live footage,” says David. “However, for economic reasons, we have seen our company move more from production to the development and marketing.”
Furthermore, like any other company working in media, David has had to adapt to the myriad changes that occur in technology. For David, keeping up to speed with these changes has been their biggest challenge. “Keeping up to speed with technology is a constant battle,” says David. “Every month there is a new gimmick that changes the media landscape, and we need to be constantly aware of what’s going on in this area.
“Broadcast technology has become a lot wider than it used to be, and is no longer limited to television. Social media allows us to broadcast more and more and keeping up to speed with either of these technologies is quite a handful. I am not just the CEO of the company; I develop the marketing strategies and produce content, so I need to be up to speed with what is cutting edge of the industry. In order to achieve this, we constantly have our eye on whatever trends are accusing in the industry and regularly attend conventions in order to learn how we can develop and what tools we need to improve our business.”
In the broadcasting industry, David firmly believes that sports have been instrumental in shaping the sector, and are streets ahead of entertainment in terms of innovation and implementing new ideas. “As I mentioned earlier, sports are all about connecting people, and I believe that it does a way better job than entertainment, if you look at areas such as brands or teams and their fan-interaction etc. As a result of its popularity, sports is playing a huge part transforming media technology for tomorrow. And by tomorrow, I really mean ‘tomorrow’ and not next year and next week, as things really are changing that fast! So if you’re a marketer with a five year plan, then you’re out of touch!”
Looking upon his business at present and beyond, David is confident that it will continue to grow and prosper. “The company is doing really well at the moment,” says David. “We’re not a big agency, but are a “nail in the shoe” of the multi-million companies, as we do work for majors brands, such as Sportel, which is the only sports marketing & media convention in the world and Oceanworx is responsible of all marketing and content for them. As a result of working with such well-known brands, we have moved away from our reputation as this funky extreme sports agency to a highly respectable and award winning sports marketing agency. We are determined to build on our great work and continue to provide the highly engaging content for our clients, but still stay funky.”
Name: David Jones