Last month, Level 6 released a five-minute video called “The Story of Level 6,” which shares the origin and evolution of the paddlesports gear brand. Paddling Magazine caught up with Level Six co-founder and owner Stig Larsson to dive in deeper into the story behind the video and why 2019 was the right time to create it.
What inspired you to produce this video? Why now?
Stig Larsson: The video was inspired to try to convey the story of Level Six and how we started as a company and why we do the things we do. When we started in 1997, there was an entire generation of paddlers that knew the story and grew up paddling with me as a person. They grew up with Level Six. Now, 22 years later, there is a generation of paddlers that have heard the story, or various versions of it so the video was made to help re-tell that story and create a connection with our customers.
What is the main thing that you hope viewers will take away from watching the clip?
SL: One of the main things that I hope people get from the video is that Level Six is not just a brand run by a venture capital firm or a brand that is run by people hired to make it profitable. Level Six is run by the co-founder and owner that was raised as a paddler with a passion for the water. This obviously translates into the brand and everything we make and everything we support. We are paddlers that love being on the water, just like you.
Who do you see as the audience for the piece?
SL: I feel the audience for this story is anyone that has an interest in being on the water and ideally those that are interested in standing behind a brand that has authenticity and a real passion for making the best paddling gear without compromise.
Did you produce the video in-house, or work with an outside production team? Who worked on the project?
SL: We worked with Five2Nine for the video and production. We obviously used our staff for the on-water shots and some of our athletes contributed to on water elements as well. But the project as a whole was done by the awesome crew at Five2Nine.
How long did it take put the whole thing together, from inspiration to posting? Were there any specific challenges?
SL: The entire project took about 12 months from the initial conception to the final editing. I think the real challenge was trying to get all the live action footage of the different paddling disciplines that encompass what Level Six is. Logistically, this entailed lots of early mornings to ensure the lighting was right as well as pulling from our friends and family to make sure the timing worked for everyone.
Where was the action footage shot?
SL: We shot at a few different locations that we frequently paddle at. Our three main shooting locations were the Ottawa River by Beachburg, the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, and at Meech Lake in Gatineau, Quebec. We are blessed with some amazing paddling spots right in our backyard.
You’ve obviously spent a lot of time on the water, in kayaks, C-1 and surfing. What are you most likely to grab these days when you’re headed out for a paddle?
SL: Right now, if I am going for a paddle with my family, I usually grab one of our Level Six 12.6 touring SUP boards and if I am travelling to go surfing, either one of our iSUP’s or epoxy 9.0 surf SUPs. If I’m going to Algonquin Park, I have a Wenonah Canoe, and if I am paddling on the river I’ll use one of my old whitewater plastic C1 or K1’s. I did just pick up a Liquidlogic Braaap 69 a few weeks ago so I am pretty pumped to get that on our local runs and on the Ottawa this spring.
Is there anything else about the video that you think we should know?
SL: I think the idea of this story happened to coincide with a recent trend of CEOs or actual company stakeholders being the storytellers of their brand. So often we see brands that have no story and “hitch their wagon” so to speak to the athlete of the moment. The problem is some of these athletes tend to jump to another brand for something as fickle as a second piece of gear, or a free plane ticket. So, it is hard to find loyalty, and more interestingly we feel the end consumers are seeing through these types of athletes and the integrity that they lack.
Our ambassadors are an important aspect of promoting the values of Level Six, but you need to be able to connect with your consumers and share with them your values as a company directly as well. Everyone needs to know what we are doing and why we are doing it in a consistent way.
This first video is the start of many more videos and interactions we are lining up to have with the people and staff that drive our sport. We want our customers to know that when they are choosing Level Six, they are choosing a brand that loves the water as much as they do.