After reading Ronell Smith’s guest blog on Wired2Fish, he may have been offering smart advice on tournament sponsorships, but the more critical notion he approached is how competitive bass fishing (and bass fishing marketing) is all about one big guy and a bunch of “extras.”

As a keen industry observer, you have to take note of Smith’s contention that only one pro actually sells, despite a sea of dye sublimation out there. That, of course, is Kevin VanDam–and he does it without even winning, languishing 60 points behind the leaders in the Bassmaster Elites.

But think about it. The competition is a bunch of dwarfs on the big marketing stage. Skeet Reese is old news. Gary Klein can’t make a cut, let alone get an interview. And be like Ike? Who wants to be yelled at by the Invisible Man?

Sure, what’s-his-name from Kansas is having a nice year in the Elites. And the World Rankings have David Dudley on top of the list. But out West, the only notice that guy gets is if he backs up a semi to the loading zone at Bass Pro Shops.

But as most baitcasters are well aware, while the industry is riding the KVD phenomena hard, there will come an inevitable backlash. Whether he is the victim of professional jealousy or merely the gray of encumbency, the Michigander has proven to be a great fish-catcher–in the ever more narrow scope that is “the bass tournament.”

And that makes me uncomfortable.

He’s not a tackle innovator or idea guy. His is just the designer label they paste on every “sexy” product in the tackle shop.  And the sales are unbelievable. So unbelievable, as I may have mentioned previously, the Bassmasters and every other KVD franchise will do almost anything to keep him on top.

As my sources have “suggested,” preserving VanDam’s status is job one. Just look at the tournament rules. No changing boats (ie. shallow draft jets) to match the varying conditions on the tour. No umbrella rigs–that just work better than one Bagley yellow-colored, Lucky Craft-shaped square-bill tied on the end of his line.

And now, after KVD’s getting trounced on a crankbait (the lure ilk of which he’s supposed to be the king) absolutely look for the elimination of the “long line” method in the Elites next year–since it too, works better than the old chunk and wind.

So yeah, it’s all about KVD. And they’ve got to keep the dwarfs in line.





17 Responses to “KVD and the 70-odd dwarfs”

[…]  The ever-controversial George Kramer takes it to another level with his analsyis in his post KVD and the 70-odd dwarfs.  Check it out and let us know what you […]

Well put George. We’re in the age of marketing and extreme hype. Apparently the powers that be feel it’s a safer bet to put all there money on a limited number of individual(s) (or in some cases, projects) and the public will eat up whatever they throw at them. Unfortunately, they might be right.

Thanks for pointing out the importance of innovators and ideas people – they keep things exciting.

The day I catch myself using “KVD” in a sentence is the day I’ll throw my rods in the lake and call it a day.

No one is more comfortable with a strong position than I, and you have taken a strong position. I only question a few things in your hypothesis. Kevin Van Dam became KVD by winning a boatload of tournaments long before he became “KVD”. He became a marketing strength by being very, very good. In the recent Major League tournaments he acquitted himself quite well against the others (including a devoted A-rig proponent. And I don’t think there was much bias in the format or rules. He also presents himself very well, unlike many of the “dwarfs” as you call them. And from what I can tell his competitors grant his uncanny ability to win. Tiger Woods, someone we may or may not respect as an individual, has done for golf what no one has been able to do for decades: attract new fans to the sport. And new fans are something our sport needs desperately. I imagine if Kevin wanted a jet boat for a tournament he would get one, so I’m not sure how their exclusion is biased in his favor. (Other dwarfs might not be able to get one as easily as he.) If the sport doesn’t grow and manufacturers aren’t making money, innovation, by individuals or companies, will disappear. We fisherman are as susceptible to marketing influences as anyone, but we are also fairly smart. (I don’t see that many boats with KVD’s fish attracting noisemaker!) All that said I thought the Skeet Reese/KVD/AOY travesty was shameful. I think what we really need are better dwarfs (or dwarves if you’re a Tolkein fan.)

Sorry, Tolkien.

by Michael Jones

Hi ho, hi ho, Kramer is in the know. Dead stinking on, George. Ray Scott promoted pros like puppies in a pet store window – you picked out the one you liked, the one you connected with regardless of their relative standing in the bass fishing cosmos and you rooted for them. Oh yeah, you also got to know them and see them on t.v. This was back when the sport was on a meteoric arc. Honestly, Ray could have easily trotted out nothing but his show ponies. Now, the chickens have come to roost after years of having a select few shoved down our throats. VanDam deserves the accolades and money but the sport deserves better from nearly everyone else.

I hope u wrote this to see how many idiots would agree….. ill be more succint than the rest … kvd has been on top for 20+ years….. hell of a conspiracy to make that happen …. some of his baits are good and some arent…. same as the entire line of zoom, yum, etc ….. stop bein a hater and a moron

by George Kramer

I’m pretty sure if I were either, I wouldn’t have let your post see the light of day. 🙂

This reminds me more of a Ben Folds Five song; “One Angry Dwarf & 200 Solemn Faces”, except the name is changed to ‘KVD and 700 Angry Dwarfs’. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that people will go to defend their favorite fishing line, bass boat, pro angler, etc. KVD has had an amazing run and I doubt that he is finished yet. The real shame of things is that now everyone pretends to be trying to teach you something when what they are really doing is trying to sell you something. Nearly every article on a website or publication starts with ‘How To’, but when you get more than a paragraph in, you are being told what to buy.

Roger’s feeling a bit defensive, he just bought some KVD PJ’s and named his new puppy – Kevin.

KVD is by far the best ambassador our sport has ever seen on and off the water. He is pulled in more directions by sponsor obligations, tournaments, seminars, dealer meetings, tv commercials, Bass Pro Shops openings, ect that any angler in history. If you look at his derby history the years he wins the classics or aoy’s are usually followed up by slower years as he is on the road more than the Rolling Stones. There have been lots of other “Hot for a stretch” anglers that have sold lots of product over the years, ala, David Fritts [poe plugs and rapala dt’s], Denny Brauer, Skeet with lucky craft ect… Ask the fine folks at Roboworm how many bags of Dropshot worms are sold nationwide when Aaron Martens dropshots to Victory. And the Strike King series of cranks, designed by KVD, do work and sell. Its not just all KVD all the time, he is just the best of all time.

I said wat i thought at the time …. no candy coating like many others i see … props to kramer for posting it …. and apparently im the moron because i spelled succinct incorrectly …. btw, my puppys name is roland martin hank parker bill dance van dam

by George Kramer

Hey, it’s all good conversation. But I kind of feel like the guy who first said there were PED’s in baseball or danger in smoking or contact with asbestos in the workplace–and nobody listened….

Theres definately smoke and mirrors involved ….. many conflicts of interest …. every pro will say in interviews that he used his sponsors’ bait to win but usually didnt …. stories of cheating not reported by coanglers for fear of retribution ….. pros acting like jackasses on and off the water …. there are no legitemate checks and balances … these are just private companies doing things in a manner which benefits them…. within this imperfect system kvd still produces consistantly and pays his bills with the sponsorships it affords him

We’re listening George. We just don’t know what to do about any of it.

by George Kramer

Bassin8r: That may be the best response of all. Now I wonder why I wrote the dang thing. 🙂

by Rich Lingor

I agree with Rick’s assessment that KVD is a great ambassador. While checking out the vendor tables at the Winter Bass-a-thon, KVD twice approached me to chat and ask me my opinions. That would be like Tiger Woods walking up to Archie Bunker to pick his brain about golf. I was a little shocked, and it is a special memory.
I haven’t seen him endorse anything that would compromise his credibility. Do you know anyone who would buy a Roland Martin Helicopter lure?

It doesn’t matter what sport it is. When somebody or someone gets to be number one at any sport, people feel the need to try and put em down and will find anything in there power to do so. People love to build em up and watch em fall. I’m sure if he (kvd) wasn’t winning, you wouldn’t have anything to talk about would you. I wonder if you were on top Kramer, what kind of dirt they dig up on you to break you down? I bet they wouldnt have to dig far.