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My Personal Agenda

Stay Wild

Confessions of an amateur industry outsider.

Words by Justin “Scrappers” Morrison

Photos by Sera Lindsey

When I make the trip to Agenda Long Beach every 6 months I bring my business cards to exchange during businessy hand shakes, but instead I get my hair cut at Victorious, share family-style hugs, and witnessing the evolution of the industry. My business cards stay in the pocket.

Agenda is one of the last great trade shows standing in the ashes of a crumbling industry. I’m just an amateur industry outsider, I could be wrong, I’m surly over-simplifying things, I don't know shit, but it looks like the industry ecosystem has evolved and so has the trade show. 

RETAIL EVOLVED - Customers buy online directly from brands now, so big box retail is dead. The Amazon effect has spread. People spend more time in their social feeds then wandering the mall. The way we shop has changed. The “Buy Now” button has replaced the cashier. 

EXHIBITS EVOLVED - Exhibitors don’t need to meet face to face with retailers to line up huge wholesale orders at a table anymore. Booth space has become parking space for cool cars and art shows. The booth space has become ad space.


SPORT EVOLVED - Camping is the new sport of choice. Poler brought “Camp Vibes” to the action sport industry and those vibrations had a big effect. Leading surf and skate brands like Hurley, Sanuk, and Vans now make goods that appeal to road-tripping happy-camper hikers. Even brands like Patagonia, Yeti, Hydroflask, and Polartec have left the Outdoor Retailer trade show to exhibit at Agenda.

ADVERTISING EVOLVED - Brands create their own content and share their own stories, so advertising agencies and advertising outlets have no reason to schmooze in the booth now. Traditional advertising is dead. Brand manifestos and huge marketing campaigns are a memory. Fully-funded creative content scrolls past our eyes now. A good story told by a real person is more effective than a logo-covered billboard now.   

FAME EVOLVED - The sponsored competitive athlete lost the popular vote to the faceless side boob social media ambassador. Brands don’t pay surfers to surf in their name like they used to, they pay road trippers to tag them in photos. I've noticed the word “Performance” has been replaced by the word “Vibes”.

EDITORIAL EVOLVED - Magazines no longer need to be printed or be the voice to their readers, they can make more money as digital talent agencies. Livefastmag.com had a booth showcasing their new creative service wing of the business called Pepper. It’s their way of creating content for brands without being seen as a collaboration with the magazine. Is this the new ad agency model? I’m not sure, but it looks like brands are doing this more than they do traditional advertising.

AGENDA EVOLVED - The Agenda Show is fading away in the light of The Agenda Festival. This year the doors opened to the public selling tickets to over 10,000 people who wanted to see the exhibits on their way to the music stages to see big acts like Tyler the Creator, Ludacris, and Lil’ Dicky.

LONG BEACH DOESN'T CARE - Despite all the industry evolutions I see at Agenda, my favorite stuff is happened in the neighborhood. The independent shops outside of the trade show serve their community, not the industry. I met a lot of kind and friendly locals at Port’s ping pong paddle art show. They reminded me that I actually don’t give a shit about the industry and how it’s evolving. All I really care about are good vibrations from real people like you.

Maybe the biggest change is that things have become more personal?