High Visibility: Surfers Catch the Wave of Sunglasses Sponsorship

High Visibility features companies, products and collections that are raising brand awareness through strategic partnerships, sponsorships, consumer advertising campaigns and tie-ins to prominent events, etc. To be considered for inclusion please contact senior editors, Deirdre Carroll or John Sailer.

While much of the country is focused on hitting the slopes on skis or snowboards, surf’s up for the following five professional surfers who recently caught the wave of sunglasses sponsorship. While they won’t have much impact on the deep freeze many of us are enduring this winter, the High Visibility of these surfers from Australia, Hawaii and California will surely heat up awareness of the sunglasses companies they are now sponsoring. And at least one company based on the East Coast makes sure that the “right coast” is represented as well.

After signing Jamie O’Brien last month, Nectar Sunglasses released his signature “Mahalo” series of sunglasses. One of the youngest surfers to ever win a Pipe Masters challenge, O’Brien produced two surfing films, Freakshow and Freakside. A statement from Nectar Sunglasses announcing its partnership with O’Brien acknowledged that “Jamie continues to push the limits of surfing and always showcases his talents on the North Shore of Hawaii and worldwide.”

“Jamie represents the sweet life 110 percent, and that is what we’re all about,” said Nectar co-founder, Sean Holmes. “We are stoked to have him on the team and are excited to build this partnership.”

Set to launch in the U.S. market next month, Australian-based eyewear brand, Otis Eyewear signed surfer Mitch Crews as its international brand ambassador. In 2013, “Crewsy” achieved his dream of qualifying for the elite Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour and will kick off his debut campaign in 2014 at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast this March, while competing in the Quiksilver Pro. “Working with Mitch is going to be really fun. He has such a vibrant persona, is a super talented surfer and is driven to succeed in his chosen craft,” said Shaun Wright, Otis global brand and marketing manager. “He will add plenty of good vibes to assist in the creation of future eyewear collections.”

“I’m really excited for this. I want to build my profile in all the key magazines and mold my image the way I want to be portrayed for the next few years on tour,” Crews said. “This is an epic opportunity for me to do this with Otis. I’m psyched on the plans they have for the future and getting involved with the USA launch.”

Smith Optics signed surfers Tim Reyes of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Jake Marshall of Encinitas, Calif. After joining ASP World Tours in 2005 and following major knee injury in 2007, Reyes returned to the surf scene with third place at Pipe Masters the following year. When the big wave surfer is not competing around the world, he dedicates his time to finding tubes in the most remote and coldest parts of North America. “Now that I get to wear proper eyewear wherever I go, I will have one less worry,” said Reyes (wearing Smith’s Lowdown). “I just got my first box of shades and I want to wear all of them. I know I will be in good hands with Smith Optics and can’t wait for all that the future holds.”

Only fourteen years old, Marshall grew up watching some of the world’s best surfers, which he channeled into five National Championships, a number one spot in the Surfer Hot 100 and first place in the 2013 Quiksilver King Of The Groms in France. “I’m stoked to be a part of the Smith team not only because they have an amazing product; they also have a really great support team to help me reach my goals,” said Marshall (also wearing Lowdown).

“Timmy and Jake embody everything that makes a top tier Smith Optics athlete. From top to bottom, our surf team is made up of very well-respected surfers, and these two only add more to the brand’s incredible roster,” said Aaron Checkwood, surf promotions manager for Smith. “Both Jake’s competition results and Tim’s never-ending quest for big waves fit the brand perfectly. We’re very excited to see what 2014 holds for them and the rest of the Smith Optics squad.”

Reflekt Polarized has taken on the entire Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) to become its “Official Sunglass Sponsor” for the 2014 season. “As an East Coast based company, Reflekt Polarized is very excited to partner with the ESA, the premier amateur surfing organization on the right coast” said Britt Wetzel, vice president of Reflekt. “It is a perfect partnership as both the ESA and Reflekt Polarized are extremely passionate in supporting the positive, healthy environment that surfing provides to our youth.”

Reflekt has also signed former World Championship Tour surfer and 1996 World Amateur Junior Champion Ben Bourgeois to its Surf Team for 2014/2015. Bourgeois is an East Coast legend who started his competitive career in the ESA’s Southern North Carolina District. "We just could not be more stoked to have Benny B on board with Reflekt Polarized," said Reflekt marketing manager Scott Troxel. "Ben epitomizes everything that is great about the East Coast surfing community. From the start, Ben was the guy that we wanted to be the face of the Reflekt Brand."