It seems wherever I look I either here about the Dawn Wall or Sierra Blair-Coyle. Both have had the cannons of the great climbing literati and media aimed at them for selling out and going all mainstream. The Dawn Waller for sharing their exploit with 140 character of less and images posted quite literally from the coal face and then getting some mainstream media to enter into the throng. Whilst Sierra’s crime was being too pretty and not actually a very good climber (Although she has place in the top 20 in IFSC comps over 3 consecutive years!)
To me these two groups offer two ends of a sponsorship spectrum one the extremely talented and cutting edge climbers on the dawn wall and as some have argued Sierra the Model. Whatever end you are at the only reason someone is sponsored is that they are essentially there to promote the sales of the companies products.
If you can show a company that you can help them market and sell their equipment through the media coverage you get from either ability, looks or the social media clout you possess then good for you. The times they are a changing. Twitter, instagram and Facebook are changing the way companies market themselves. Why pay money for an advert when you can launch some news, photos or video that go viral. By complaining one way or another the critics are fuelling the fire of the viral marketeers.
So yes the face-ter-gram generation is all about followers, how you get them comes down to more factors than ability and yes looks do count. The fact that sierra markets herself very overtly as a good looking climber I think makes people uncomfortable. Just remember rather than her, hate the game and not the player!
If you think climbers are stupid enough to fall for the dashing good looks of one climber over another. Then I would think again, the majority I seem to know are amongst the most picky shoppers in the world. Many have brand loyalty that go back years. They will research ever purchase to death as nothing is cheap these days so better to buy once.
Check out this video by Epic TV, if you want to see how borderline sexist some of the media are in reporting on Sierra.