Sun, summer, toned bodies, tanned skin, can’t ya just taste it?
“Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.” – Bill Bernbach
Some things are totally harder than others. Boxing’s one. The other night I was feeling particularly Dutch and courageous and decided to break a lifetime of loving and become a fighter. Squaring off against a good friend – and part irritating Tolkien-like character – I felt sure that my superior reach and Aryan genetics would see me victorious.
The game plan was to dance around for a few minutes taunting him a la Cassius Clay and then when he got really mad, plant one on the end of his nose, and have another gin and tonic. In theory: flawless, in practice: unrealistic.
I spent about half-a-second taunting, one minute avoiding a combination of right and left jabs and then three days recovering from the mild to moderate concussion that followed a haymaker landing straight in the temple. In entering the fight I ignored the golden rule: Don’t try to compete in an unknown discipline against someone who knows what they’re doing.
Surfing and selling people crap that they don’t need in essence go together like peas and carrots. But the amount of times that it’s done badly, from surf and consumer points of views, really boggles. Surfing is sex, and sex sells. Sun, summer, toned bodies, tanned skin, can’t ya just taste it?
Convincing the great unwashed that they need to buy your product in order to look and feel better and in turn appear more attractive to the opposite/same/both sex(s) is the aim of the game and what better chariot than surf. What perplexes moi is that the ad companies try to do surf on their own.
Why they don’t stick half the budget in their back pockets and reach out to the salty struggling creative (me!!) doesn’t make sense. Do they sit in the board room are go, “Ah yeah Mike went on holiday to Waikiki with his family once, he’s in charge of this one…”
Here’s a hit, miss, and maybe of capitalisms whoring out of our beloved surf:
This is the ad in circulation that sparked my exploration of the surf ad and, man, it’s bad. It’s more or less impossible to work out who the target audience is. Backpackers leaning to surf? But they’re staying in a hotel. The youth? But the protagonists are fat and heading towards forty. Young professionals on boring holidays? But who with disposable income spends it on Subway sandwiches!?
It can’t possibly make anyone want to surf, have sex, or eat a goddam sandwich. Surely! The error isn’t in the corn. Corny is good, corny sells. Even in the surf world the enlightened amongst us thrive on a bit of romanticism. What this advertisement lacks is fun. The surf doesn’t look fun, the sandwich doesn’t look fun. The essence is fine: Can’t do something, consume product, victory! But why do surf with someone who can’t surf, on a beach with bad surf, and completely lacking in chocolate brown flesh. Fail. There’s no way that anyone with any surf cred had anything to do with this.
So close to perfection you can almost taste the fattening black gold! The copy is outstanding. It’s employed my beloved trick of plundering a theme, or piece of prose, from one of the masters of the Lit game (Melrose) and paraphrasing it just enough so that it feels strangely familiar to the reader, but keeps the legal team of Vintage or Penguin off your ass. Well played Tom Carty (copywriter) you savvy pilferer!
The concept again is genius: Waiting for a bomb, waiting for the Stout to settle into the gorgeously contrasted black and white. The action’s where this one falls short. Dude’s taking elevator drops in black and white at Waimea don’t need no CGI. Save your coin, ditch the unrealistic cut ins of wipeouts and the white horses, play the bomb start to end, and finish up on the beach where the surf was shot. Ahab, Moby and Greg Noll all go have a Guinness at Haleiwa Joes. Perfect.
Big Bill Berbach says, “Properly practiced creativity can make one ad do the work of ten.”
This is a case of the creatives over-cooking the goose with not enough sprinkling of surf knowledge. A commendable effort nonetheless.
(Editors Note: this ad won Gold at eh Clio’s, so who really cares what BeachGrit thinks.)
Ah the Mexican Bintang. Bravo you brown-skinned devils for turning a drab local brew into a global monster!
Formula: Worlds Best Surf Cinematographer + Gaggle of renowned Surf hessians + Mexican Sunset + Product = Poetry.,
And glorious authenticity! It’s borne of a well-rounded vision of why people are interested in your product and why they continue to buy it. Corona’s just like any other lager. It’s light, fizzy, and if you drink too much of it then you’ll do something stupid and wake up with a headache (possibly in the arms of a stranger. Its unique selling point is that it’s from Mexico and people really do drink it when the sun goes down).
“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth,” preaches Papa Bernbach.