Despite how large you think the industry may be it, it is actually quite small. A close circle of racers, personel, media, and companies make up the things you see and consume on a daily basis. While it is somewhat difficult to break into the ranks, once one is “in,” it is for the long haul. One example of this is in Answer Racing’s Pat Lopez. A former Ad Representative at TransWorld Motocross, “P-Lo” has become the man in charge of marketing for the Corona-based gear brand.
What is your title at Answer Racing and how long have you been with the company?
My title is Marketing Manager for Answer Racing, and I have been here for close to one year. It will be one year in November.
You were a TransWorld employee before coming here. How much from your previous job did you carry over to here? You saw how everyone wants to do their marketing and saw the best of everything, and put it into one place here.
Certainly. I could never have imagined how much I learned while at TransWorld. The minute I left I realized how much I took away, not just from the employees at TransWorld across moto, surf, skate, and snow, but how much I took away from my actually advertisers, who where the people I dealt with day in and day out. I learned from and took away the positives with my own mistakes and theirs as well. It was always a partnership and I always take that partnership with me, whether it is to a retailer or another media company. I understand what trials and tribulations the media deals with, which I do not think many people understand. For every issue and every post that goes out makes what types of phone calls you get, positive and negative. I think trying to find that middle ground of getting my job done and keeping it cool with the media, to make sure everyone is accountable. Understanding what you guys in the media deal with day in and day out with advertisers and riders, I took away a ton.
Now that you are on the other end of the phone call, how much different is it to put the things together and cater to everyone’s needs?
For the riders, they mean quite a bit to me and keeping them happy, not just giving them stuff, but having them be a part of it is the biggest thing for me. Everywhere I go, which is what I felt at TransWorld and wanted to bring here, is the realness of it and being involved. Being involved is important in everything. My daily role is to keep the real factor. Take the motocross industry out of it, and most of us would still ride and be at the track. That is something I wanted to really convey out from the Answer brand to the media, our riders, and our retailers. We are a big, but small industry and it is really important to have that involvement. That is what I try to take to the product, to the media, the riders, whoever it may be. I think there are some brands out there that have that same philosophy. Is it competition? Yeah, but those are brands that I like. That is what needs to be taken to the media and to our retailers, that they tell the Answer story. I can only run so many ads, so as long as they understand where the brand comes from, it will trickle down.
How difficult is it to put together a marketing campaign?
It is pretty difficult, more difficult than I thought. I was an armchair quarterback before, but now that I am sitting down and doing it. Now days it is about pulling print into online, into the media, and essentially into video. Let’s be honest, kids are clicking videos no matter what they do. But, in my opinion, putting together a marketing program, you want to get behind a certain athlete or certain product. We have a strong athlete with a polarizing figure with all eyes on him, even outside our industry. For me, it is about showcasing his talents and the fact that we have been around a long time, which was a big reason why I came here. As far as putting together the marketing program, it is tough. You always want one more video guy and art director, an extra day or hour in the week, so it is one of those things where you are never really done. It is tough but a lot of fun and I have really good support crew here. You can’t do it alone.
To have someone like James, does it require you to go over everything with an even more fine-toothed comb to make sure it is perfect, because it could be ripped apart by the public?
Yeah. Going back to the first question about TransWorld, we were a pretty aggressive media company and they always will be. I have seen plenty of three-page message board threads about TransWorld, and that experience of being there and the way it’s pushed taught me to know that you are never going to win with everyone. For me with James, I understand that all eyes will be on it and I want it to be as perfect as it can be, but at the end of the day I know he will have to show a video of himself coming out of knee surgery. I didn’t work here when he had that happen, but he had to show that so people would believe he got it. That example alone means I’m never going to nail it for everybody, but that is a good thing. Yes, we go through it with a fine-toothed comb but we do not get hung up on it. At the end of the day, we mostly win. At the Hangtown race, the whole motocross world saw that gear that he won in and saw the ad that we did. The goggles are still on because he was a pretty emotional guy at the time and I think everyone was excited to see him back on his game. For me, you go over it to not ruin it, but it is pretty hard to ruin it when I have good designers, good gear, good heritage, and support from Tucker Rocky. We don’t do this alone, but there are not as many people as you would think behind it here at Answer.
What can we expect for 2013 and beyond?
For Anaheim One we have some new gear that will be available the week after. To get on our production game and the whole marketing position, there is more than print ads and photos. It is about selling gear. For 2013, we will be with the JDR KTM program, which is a really cool team. We have Chase Bell, who will be on their amateur program. For the entire amateur program, it is cool to see it dig deeper and go further down and I know Answer is excited to be a part of it. The new gear is really night and day, and while everyone has seen the 2013 gear, you’ll now get to see it racing around. We are actually now on our 2014 stuff. We will have the new gear for Anaheim and may have another new color way trickle in throughout Supercross, or we may hold it off until Hangtown. Or “H1,” as we call it (Laughs).