One of my biggest gripes in life is watching a film on a commercial television station. Not only do they have the knack of cutting to an ad break at times where you're glued to the screen but the whole experience of chopping up a film into lots of little sections is really, really aggravating. More often than not there will be a few adverts that are played at every commercial interval, the gaudy, garish, ukulele twinkling drivel will appear, trying to get you interested in insuring your shed with organic peas or whatever. They litter trains, buses and the sides of peoples houses. They come in neon or on large screens in public places. They come in PR stunts and free giveaways. They sit among the content of newspapers and magazines. Adverts are everywhere and you pretty much cannot escape them - even Channel 4 have managed to work a way around internet ad-blockers so that their online streaming service is just like watching the channel on the TV. There're even adverts on cash machine/ATM screens now - ARRGGG I don't want to buy that toilet roll thanks, I want check my balance!
[part title="In Print"]
As skateboarders we're not exempt from a barrage of adverts trying to get you to buy products. However, compared to general advertisements - for beer or nappies - we can actually enjoy adverts. Far more often than not skate adverts contain someone doing something on their skateboard. 'Wow dude that was rad' one of your favourite skaters did something so stylish, unique or insane, which is then followed by a fade out to the companies/brand's insignia if it's a video ad. Or if it's in print, then there's a photo of the same trick and insignia, just it's static. Every aspect of what they're doing, what the spot looks like, the trick, the lighting, their hands, their clothes can be analysed and dissected by the potential customer. A printed ad has more scope for sticking in your head as that moment can be burned into your memory as a solid image. A photo advert in a magazine/in print can sometimes be just as good or even better than some of the photos that are in the features of the mag itself. Back in the 90's adverts were a way for companies to conduct war with each other, especially if you were Steve Rocco. A skate advert definitely doesn't have to have skating in it for it to be effective.
[part title="Video Ads"]
Video adverts were and still are common practice, only these days they're on youtube rather than in-between segments of a 411. This DC advert for the legendary DC video is a prime example of to make an advert look epic - although with Greg Hunt being behind the lens for the video you'd probably expect a 30 second advert to look pretty decent. Danny Way hitting the mega ramp and bailing, cutting out halfway through AVE doing a switch backside nosegrind, some scenic shots and then a simple fade to "The DC Video" is all you need. The following Habitat "Mosaic" advert is also a great example of a company's aesthetic shining through and teasing you. A video advert, within a video, for an upcoming video doesn't happen very often these days really; at least not in a physical format video. With the explosion of the internet and the impact that it's had on skate culture, amazing adverts such as this one can often be lost quickly into the ether. However this Jon Sciano Lakai example also demonstrates the culture of single/solo part releases online, rather than full length clips. Although reminiscence over the 411 days gone by is a bit futile and the modern day video adverts are just as good, if not better, the video adverts we used to know, are now a different animal in a different landscape.
[part title="Insignia "]
An insignia or logo is a big part of a brand's identity. Take this Julien Stranger Independent ad above for example, you don't even need to have 'Independent Trucks' written on the ad, you know from the logo/insignia, Julien's surname and the simple burly shot that this is an Indy ad (and it's fucking raw). The prevalence and importance of visual stimuli in skateboarding is paramount. You'll be able to spot a Palace T-Shirt from the back from miles off, whether the person wearing it skates or not is a different matter. If the guys running the brand have done it right then it'll be a logo that looks good, will age well and is something people will be proud to ride or wear. The font of the writing, the colours, the adaptability of a logo and its iconicity make a brand stand out when it comes to its image and its products. Keeping it simple will always look better to me, then again you might like something a bit more complicated.
Slogans are also an integral aspect of a brand's advertising. Most brands will find one that they stick with, or play around with and mold. Probably one of the most iconic and longest running slogans is Vans' "Off The Wall" which adorns every box of shoes and events that they put on etc. Ricky Oyola inventing 'True East' for Zoo York, against Stereo who ran an advert with Ryan Hickey (who in defence, is from New York) which said 'Stereo East' is an example of how important slogans are for a brand's identity and what it means to their potential customers and followers. Some brands have various phrases and slogans that they use in different ways: Magenta has "Worldwide Connections", "Everything Connected", "New Clear Vision", which if you've got the "Soliel Levant" DVD are all explained in a booklet along with the video. Having a deeper meaning and explaining the reason for the use of the phrases is a great way to help someone identify/solidify why they support the brand. Polar have a large number of slogans and sayings that come directly from Pontus and into their output. One of my favourites is "Style is Forever" which features in a lot of their print adverts, Pontus uses forever a lot "Wallies forever" and "No Complies Forever" feature heavily in the brand's adverts. Another one "Happy Sad Around The World" (which adorns a great number of Polar socks) and even appears from the man himself when skating. The freedom that skate companies have to express themselves as an identifiable force is great, especially if they come directly from those involved and don't have to be passed through a corporate okaying system. Even if you aren't running a brand, a slogan can be something that people can recognise and remember. Takahiro Morita for example, who runs FESN (Far East Skate Network) has used "Skaters Must Be United" which aside from being a powerful and positive message, is also something that will make you instantly think of FESN and him when you see or hear it.
[part title="The Future"]
As mentioned earlier the internet has greatly changed the way skateboarding's output is consumed and presented. This article for example won't be coming to a magazine near you anytime soon, it'll be sat here on the internet. With the advent of social media and the ability to tailor it to your own tastes, Facebook for example can become a lengthy billboard for companies you've liked, to advertise to you. So long as you've only liked companies you really back and enjoy then this can be a good thing - but with the ability to pay Facebook to promote your adverts, the competition between brands can become quite frantic. Skate companies Instagram pages are essentially stylised billboards too, often companies will release an advert that is in print onto Instagram on the same day or even before it's come out. Adverts aren't going to go away and so long as people are still doing good things on their boards and with their companies then the future of skate adverts will still be something that we can enjoy.
On the other hand though there's some total morons out there, if you haven't seen our '10 Clueless Attempts At Using Skateboarding In Advertising Campaigns' then have a read to get the blood boiling. Or check out our 'Top 10 Funniest Skate Ads' to mellow you out.