The surfing industry is a multi-billion dollar a year global business (Gladdon, 2002). Professional female surfers, in particular, are drawing greater media attention than ever before and are seen by surf companies as the perfect vehicle to develop this global industry further. Because lifestyle branding has been developed as a modern marketing strategy, this thesis examines the lifestyle marketing practices of the three major surfing companies Billabong, Rip Curl and Quicksilver/Roxy through an investigation of the sponsorship experiences of fifteen sponsored female surfers. The research paradigm guiding this study is an interpretive approach that applies Doris Lessing’s (1991) concept of conformity and Michel Foucault’s (1979) notion of surveillance and the technologies of the self. An ethnographic approach was utilised to examine the main research purpose, namely to: determine the impact of lifestyle marketing by Billabong, Rip Curl and Quicksilver/Roxy on sponsored female surfers. The data collection was conducted over a four-year period and was predominantly based on interviews supported by observation, field notes and document analysis that included the analysis of visual material represented in magazines, newspapers, surf-related websites and DVDs. Interviews were conducted with fifteen female surfers who were predominantly sponsored by either Billabong, Rip Curl or Quicksilver/Roxy and included other non-surf-related companies to discuss their sponsorship experiences. Four representatives from three manufacturers of global surf wear, Billabong, Rip Curl and Quicksilver/Roxy, were also interviewed in order to determine the motivation, selection criteria and philosophy that will impact on the sponsorship of these female surfers.
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