Snowboard Advertising Critique

Here is the lowdown on all the advertising from the first issues of the snowboard mags. It may look harsh, but believe me, this is what everyone is saying behind the backs of the people who created and paid for the ads and we'd rather get it down in black and white.

Actually, we should be getting paid for all this consulting work, but we're doing it out of the goodness of our hearts. True altruismin the 90s. Strange isn't it. Ayn Rand would be proud.

Comic Book Wars

Someone, please tell me: is it coincidence that Burton, Sims, and FLF Films have all ended up on the psuedo-comic book groove? Did the same Jolt-drinking, Cheetos-smaking hacker drop by and mention that, "hey, comic books are really cool with gen x right now." Hmm.

Burton and FLF, wisely we believe, went with the comic theme and threw in some solid action photos, while Sims got a hokey, full-page comic drawn by Jason Freeman (designer of graphics for Experience and Adrenaline skate decks). Yes, it does include one little frame of Noah going off in Alaska, and Freeman has a good eye for comic framing. But please, someone wake whoever's behind the creative wheel at Sims because they've drifted well off the "effective advertising highway" and are in serious danger of slamming head-on into the brick wall.

The Good Stuff

As usual Gnu's retro t-shirt iron-on trasfer is ruler of the planet. Talking to Gnu guru Mike Olsen reminds us that million-dollar fancy advertising agencies will never recreate the marketing genius that comes from reckless abandon plus a dash of bald-faced stupidity.

Scott "Bikini, Blur, Ride" Clum has finally completed his hazy-eyed, jacked-up tour through the design stratosphere and returned to earth with a solid Morrow ad featuring a surprisingly uncropped action photo of Shannon Haymes, a Formula 1 Hot Wheel, and some subliminal (and pricey) lacquered words. Hint: Marilyn and James Dean are patron saints. Welcome back to earth Scott, we all missed you.

The Wave Rave crew scores big points for the Quest trading card thing. (Mmmm, we wonder how much a Keith Wilson puff-coat card will be worth after he get's traded?) And for the wonderfully sci-fi _The Magnus Corporation_ ad which, if we're not mistaken has a Church of the Subgenius twist to it. Beware the conspiracy.

Rannnn-queeeeeet Beerrrrrr. Lamar pulls a beauty with Mike Ranquet's Ranier ad. Strong. Loud. Stylie. A perfect representation of the man himself.

Image/media/art kingpin Brad Steward comes up a winner with Matt Goodwill's "King Size" Bonfire ad. Pulling together moody portrait with a meaty action photo in a nice gatefold package in Snowboarder. Makes us want to buy, buy, buy.

Someone at The Movement is on it--probably more than one. Maybe this is what happens when snowboarders actually get to run their own company. These guys have created a solid groove and with "Art in the realm of disguise" they have continued to move forward with flavor. Using more of Matt Donohue's cool, swirly art can't hurt, either.

If you aren't fluent in Spanish like we are Division 23's Sluggo ad headline says "Hey, I'm an angry little monkey, and I'm climbing the chain-link fence!" Sluggo sure is, and his ad looks sweet. Clever, clean, clear, effective, and groovin'. We can't believe this is the same company that ran that stupid ghetto ad three or four years ago. Greg, you've come along way baby.

For a company that's constantly battling with distributors, Nitro came up clean. A reminder to everyone that a headline, body copy, and graphic elements can be arranged in a pleasing manner.

Hey, who says you have to be a snowboard company to kick down the goods. Patagonia comes through solid with a sick photo of Mike Schibler negotiating a big white wall. Simple. Effective.

Smith came in with a nice goggle-eye view of Matt Goodwill in Alaska. Definitely an improvement over last year's blah, blah, blah, drivel.

Next time anyone sees the Mambosok guys buy them a beer. They've been able to ignore the hype and remain true to their groove. Plus, running an skier ad in a snowboard mag is pretty damn punk rock.

Coming Up Short

Has Rossignol lost their mind? Do they know that snowboarding is a potentially huge market for them? Then why are they wasting money on advertising that looks like fried poop? My guess is that once again the mighty, hulking giant of a ski company has chosen to ignore their (in French accent) "little snowboard division" in favor of their ski enterprises. But then "no budget" is no excuse for the Dave Basterrechea ad. It's sad when great riders like Dave and Tricia Byrnes get put in ads this ugly. Someone, please, give them a hand.

Original Sin (a.k.a. Dynastar) comes off a bit better visually, but their copy proves they don't have a clue when it comes to snowboarding. Since we're sure no one read it it says, "Ever feel like spinning? That's only human when little annoyances peck at you. But remember this little psychological fact. Everyday pleasures, like riding for instance, are important. So if you're a rider, you're wise to choose the board that gives the most pleasure."

What the hell are they talking about? They've got SNL's Stuart Smalley writing ad copy, "I'm good enough, I'm nice enough, and dawgonnit people like me." Well, if OS keeps this up people are going to hate their boards. Trust me.

Gee, Wild Duck sure packed the whole works into their fall ad. Let's see, the same marginal photo nine times, four addresses, five type faces, plus bad colors add up to a real clutter. What happened to those cybertronic baby ads from last year? Did someone say they were too "Euro?"

Short Cuts

Build-a-bong: You have one of the styliest riders on the planet and you're wasting him. Loose the boarder and update the logo treatment. _Hooger_: Nice try, but your logo needs work. Mistral: Remember, sex sells. Not sexism. Try again. Solid: Lighten up the photos and rock on. Apocalypse: Just exactly who are you trying to sell boards to? Barfoot: Great idea, lousy execution. Burning Snow: Great label, but we're guessing this was the only Szabo photo you had, right? Cappel: Nice tits, but what exactly are you selling? Revelation: Good blur/generator ad, but why bang on the competition? It just makes you look bad, especially when half a word is missing. Widowmaker: Getting arrested stopped being cool in 1990 after Don Szabo and Victor Coyne were thrown in the Mammoth Lakes jail for riding without tickets. Beacon: Big points for using the word Fuck in Snowboarder. That's so rad.

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