October 5, 1994
Someone asked us for longer reviews. So here you go. Long reviews, boring commentary, and enough grammatical errors to cause cardiac arrest in our seventh grade English teachers. But, so what. It's not like you're paying for this or anything.
Word has reached us that Roger "I-know-what-it's-like-because-I used-to-telemark" Lohr, Ski Industries of America's snowboard relations person, is stock-piling all flakezine posts in his files (as well as faxing them to key industry people), while actively hunting down the person or persons responsible for our little 'zine. Unfortunately, all his leads have have taken him right back where he started--his empty desk. Hey, Roger, nice try and happy hunting.
The Destructive Power of Mainstream Press and Advertising
(a long-winded, unfunny analysis essay by the staff)
"Society is something like a cybernetic system that is ruled by various governors. One of the most important regulating mechanisms is the advertising industry. Advertisements function like templates that control psycho-social processes by channelling energy and guiding activity." Imagologies: Media Philosophy, by Mark C. Taylor and Esa Saarinen. ISBN 0-415-10337-1
Snowboarding is being embraced by "pop-culture" at an alarming rate. No sport, it seems, has ever been more closely aligned with the icons of popstyle than snowboarding has in the past few months. Recently several items surfaced in the media that deserve closer inspection:
The September 1994 issue of Britain's The Face magazine featured a story titled The 100 Most Powerful People in Fashion . At number 96 on this list was Greg Arnet (misspelling his name, it's actually Arnette). In what is becoming the popular blend of snowboarding fashion and rock'n roll they said he, "Created the hottest shades this summer. With the silver "Beastie Boy Arnets" now deleted, he becomes cult property."
Everyone knows the part snowboarding played in taking Arnet glasses into the world spotlight. In ads featuring Steve Graham and Todd Messick Greg (and photographer James Cassimus) captured the essence of cool through snowboarding. In fact, Mike D was probably introduced to the chrome Arnets by fellow Beastie and snowboarder Adam "MCA" Yauch. Mike D even wore the shades at Board Aid, Warp magazine's snowboard/rock'n roll fund raiser for LifeBeat held at Snow Summit in spring of 1994, an event that MTV used as a location for their Top 20 Video Countdown with right-wing, virgin V.J. Kennedy and guest V.J. Emilio Estevez.
In the same issue of The Face in an article on street style at a standstill and the emergence of micro-fashions, style journalist Ekow Eshun wrote, "Come winter they [street style trendsetters] will probably have switched to high-performance outdoors wear by labels like Northface and snowboard companies such as B13 [Burton's clothing line in England].
This style appropriation of all things snowboard has not been overlooked by U.S. publications either. In the style section of a recent issue of Rolling Stone, a Burton product manager named Heidi, was featured in a section on style trend-setters that blurred the line between advertising and editorial. Snowboarding was touted as "hot hot hot," in the piece.
"The Ad-dict buys images not things." Imagologies.
On the advertising side, outerwear giant, Columbia Sportswear Company of Portland, Oregon ran an ad for their new line of "snowboard" wear in the October issue of Spin with copy that reads, "Mother Boyle says snowboarding rips. . . next time you catch some air, grab your Convert first." They also ran the ad in the December issue of TeaWorld. Not to be outdone, Nike advertised their Air Krakatoa in the October issue of Snowboarder magazine. Interestingly, TeaWorld ad salespeople claim they would not allow Nike to advertise in their pages. Why? Who knows. Apparently, the advertising staff felt that the Nike ad was somehow inappropriate for the pages of a snowboard magazine, while a full-page ad for Ice-T's new Album "Born Dead" or a half-page Public Enemy ad is. Incongruities in advertising policy, however, are nothing new for that magazine.
Far and away the largest hit to snowboarding in a while is the Molson Ice beer ad featuring Steve Graham, Damian Sanders, and Tex Davenport. For it's first nation run it dropped in during Monday Night Football on September 26, 1994, when the Bronco's were trailing the Bills 20 to 27. Molson's advertising agency purchased the footage from Gerry and Artie at FLF Films (creators of this year's Gettin' Some).
This isn't the first time snowboarding has been used to sell beer. Coors Light used Bert Lamar and others in ads back in 1987, and more current bits in an ad running this winter, however, Coors has always used snowboarding as part of a "winter sports montage." The Molson ad is entirely snowboarding from beginning to end, and will probably put snowboarding into the forebrains of more people than anything else this winter.
That Columbia, Nike, Coors, and Molson are using snowboarding as a sales vehicle shows how important (monetarily speaking) snowboarding's image has gotten. Because they are so crafty when it comes to influencing consumers, advertisers and pop-media outlets create a hype spiral. They tap into snowboarding's image by telling people that snowboarding is cool. People then make the logic jump to thinking that both snowboarding, Columbia, Nike, and beer are cool.
As with all growth spirals, the downside is that as the spiral climbs higher and higher it gets smaller and smaller. As snowboarding gets bigger and bigger, the number of companies involved in an industry will fall off making snowboarding much less diverse. In a large market, only the very large companies have the cash to compete. Look at shoes, soft drinks, computers, and beer for example. There used to be many companies in each industry, but they were all bought up by the big guys. This is the main reason Ride Snowboards went public and Avalanche sold 80 percent to a rich business man. Both companies understand that in order to survive in the "popularized" world of snowboarding they needed large amounts of cash.
Currently there are more than 100 "brands" of snowboards being manufactured at between 10 to 20 factories world-wide. It's only a matter of time before the companies that actually manufacture their own products squeeze out the smaller companies that are having their boards built by someone else. Manus like Morrow are already putting on the squeeze with their Slickfty line of boards that retail for US$399 bindings included. This will force smaller companies to be much more efficient. Many on the micro-label level just won't be able to do it and will go down hard during the next five years.
The reason we're discussing this is because so many people seem to get excited when they see snowboarding being recognized by the "mainstream" pop-culture. "It's helping to promote the sport," they say. "We'll all make more money." But it doesn't work that way. In the hands of the "mainstream," snowboarding will become exactly like skiing, golf, in-line skating, NASCAR, and tennis. Boring, dull, and staid. Sure, snowboarders, snowboard companies, and the snowboard media will make a lot more money (yippie), but it will be in exchange for their souls, creativity, and individuality. You can count on it.
Phew, now that that's off our chests lets get back to the game at hand: the somewhat sorry state of snowboarding advertising. This outing will feature advertising from Snowboarder's second issue (October), Blunt's issue 3.3, and TeaWorld's third issue (December). Exactly why TeaWorld's October issue is called the December issue will be covered at a latter date. (It has a great deal to do with fooling consumers at the newsstand.)
Leading the pack of nominations for "Worst Snowboard Ad of All Time" is Alpina Goggles. The sexist, retro-70s ski ad features a large-breasted white woman in a black body suit, blue flannel, and yes, Alpina Darksite goggles. Her heaving cleavage (which would be more at home on the cover of a porno-romance novel at a supermarket checkout) presses out to embrace the edge of a six-year-old Burton Air. A fan is whipping her blonde hair back and her lips are pursed and blowing slightly. At the top of the page are the words, "What are you looking at?" The immediate answer which comes to mind is, "Your sexist, lame-ass ad, dick." But being intellectuals we'd have to guess we're looking at Alpina's complete lack of understanding when it comes to the snowboard market and advertising in general. Apparently, Alpina's marketing director is from the "big boobs and beer" school of advertising which says "give 14-year-old boys a boner and they'll buy your product." While this style may work selling pay-per-view WrestleMania bouts to inbred white trash, it won't work here in the snowboard world, thank God. Alpina was kind enough to leave their phone number ((800) 257-4621) at the bottom of the ad so everyone can call them and let them know just how great their advertising is.
Nipping closely at Alpina's heels is Ton A' Wawa which features a cut out of, you guessed it, a large-breasted white woman (complete with desktop scanner lines) removed from a porno mag and wearing a pair of Ton A' Wawa pants. Her bare-breasts are covered by a black bar in both TeaWorld and Snowboarder, but in Snowboarder she gets another black bar across her eyes. Lovely, isn't it? The ad copy reads, "Is Penthouse for real? Are women like that for real?. . . Do the women of Baywatch give you a big one? In an uncertain situation is it better to keep your pants on? Say yes to Ton A' Wawa." Well to answer your questions: No. No. Sometimes, and Yes. As to saying yes to Ton A' Wawa we say "nope a lotta."
Not wanting to miss out on the selling sex groove, Stryke (Spyder's snowboard line) features a picture of a damn cute, slightly granola looking girl squatting on a bar stool. Under the stool are the words, "Catherine. Summit Pass Holder. Table Dancer." The main copy of the ad reads, "A dollar well spent." Does this mean that watching "Catherine" dance topless on your table is worth about a dollar, or is Stryke clothing saying that the creative production of the ad only cost a buck? One is a deal, the other a rip off. We'll let you decide which is which.
Women We Love
Some companies actually use women in their ads very nicely. Wave Rave gets big props for their "Who's That Wave Rave Dream Girl?" ad featuring groovie gal Megan Pischke (excuse us: is that a Wrist-Rocket in your pocket?) on her pink Dream Girl bike. We'd ride with her any day of the week because that gal can ride.
Airwalk pulls off a nice little ad featuring Shannon Dunn. It's nothing special, just action, a logo, and some boots, but it's nice to see that some companies appreciate the athletic abilities of the women in their ads.
Random Snowboard Quote
San Jose Mercury News 12.14.93
"Florence, just recovering from getting whacked in the face by an out-of-control snowboard attached to an 18-year-old smarty-pants, wouldn't confide her exact age, beyond acknowledging that she was a card-carrying member in good standing of the Seventy-Plus Ski Club."
Nominee for the funniest ad of all time is Luxury Snowboards ad in TeaWorld which reads, "Blunt Magazine Lets Us Advertise." If you don't get it we can't really explain it. But we busted out laughing at first glance.
Also in the funny category: Morrow's switch-pants sequence of Matt Goodwill and Tyler Lepore exchanging trousers. Sequence photos, humor, logo: the triple whammy of effective snowboard advertising.
Snowboard Connection's John Logic dishes out the ironic view of snowboarding advertising with his quarter page ad in Snowboarder which features a coffee cup with a halo encircled in a gold chain. "This is an advertisement," it says at the top. "Semi-nude women, drunken pro-brahs, and 60's retro stylings make you feel warm, fuzzy and just a little excited. Visa Mastercard, Amex gladly accepted." In small type at the bottom of the ad, "Number two in a series--Does advertising even work?" Yeah, John. Good advertising works.
Yang continues to groove on the cyber-rift with a Photoshopped montage of snowboard photo, partly cloudy sky, the yang logo and a yin-yang symbol. No copy. No address. No phone number. Just raw image. Placed across the middle of the third page of Snowboarder's SBIA column, the ad violates editorial top and bottom. (This style of advertising was pioneered in action sport magazines by Acme Skateboards in the pages of TeaWorld Skate.) Because the ad appears to direct the shape of the editorial it could be argued that the advertising is more important than the editorial. From an advertising perspective this is great, however, from the publishers point of view it seems to deteriorate the integrity of the editorial.
Joyride pulls a solid, straight-up ad in Snowboarder. With an heavy art nod to Mondrian, Joyride's eye-catching color and action from Doug Austin rocks. And we're sounding just a little too much like the reviewers from Ad Week. Sorry. Their ad in Blunt features tour memorabilia from the Jason Carrougher tour including a tour jersey, picture set, program, satin tour jacket, poster, and the currently sold out Giant Fecal Sample a "4 foot long steaming loaf, freshly pinched. Straight from jason's own latrine. This is definitely a collectors item," it says. Also featured is a poster of five topless tour groupies obviously culled form Outlaw Biker magazine. Surprisingly, this ad is one of the more creatively written ads in snowboarding, even though it is a bit raw. It's actually quite funny in the way the ad equates the snowboard pro lifestyle to that of a bloated, middle-aged 70s rockstar. The similarities are shocking, really.
Mount Snow a resort in Southern, Vermont wins the mother-may-I award for athletically correct snowboard advertising with a half-page ad that their risk management lawyers must drool over. It features two snowboard photos with the words, "Grab tail at the park, but don't go too far." And, as if that wasn't enough under their logo they repeat, "Go to the limit without going to far." As if someone could possibly go too far at Mount Snow. What are they going to do, fall off a snow blower? What kind of newsspeak is this? Somehow we don't think Nike would have done as well if their tag line had been "Just Do It. Carefully and In Control!" Or if Reebok had lengthened it's slogan to, "Life's Short. Play Hard. But Not Too Hard. You Could Get Hurt."
In Blunt magazine someone (Tamilyn Beiber?) said, "Will Hooger every realize that Hooger is just as silly as Hooger Booger?" We couldn't agree more. Hooger's ad in Snowboarder is a complete rip off of a New Balance ad created by ski cinematographer Greg Stump which featured Glen Plake. The TV ad went something like, "We paid this big basketball star all this money to appear in this ad. We got all this camera equipment. Rented all these lights, and the dude didn't show." Well, Hooger's version is of an out-of-focus large-breasted white woman complete with retro-70s Afro and dirty fingernails (how punk rock) holding a white card that says, "This was suppose [sic] to be a sick pic of Matty Goodman; but. . . ah. . . he didn't show up." Then at the bottom of the ad, "Hey, if you see Matty, tell him to call his sponsor." The ironic part is that Hooger isn't Matty's sponsor any longer. So when he calls, he along with Andy Hetzel will call Shaun Palmer the new figure head of Palmer.
Hooger's Noah Brandon ad in TeaWorld is even worse because it exploits what appears to be a poor black beggar saying the colloquial "Yo, Noah; you got your own pro model snowboard? Me too!" We just don't get it, especially in light of Noah's dedication to the Bahai Faith (he spent a year teaching at a Bahai school on Vancouver Island).
We sometimes wonder why magazine's take money from companies who have no clue when it comes to advertising. Take Kurvz Extremewear, for example. They are a small company from Davis, California who make women's snowboard clothing. They deserve all the help they can get, yet, their ad is a jumble mess or moderately good ideas. The copy reads, "2 Different Riders. 2 Perfect Fits." Good enough. Unfortunately, the ad goes on. "Do what you want to do. . . We'll make the gear." Fine. But it's not over yet. "It's not about new school, or old school, it's about snow." Okay. It's almost like the design team sat down, made a list of cool slogans and then decided to use them all in one ad. One at a time they may have been okay, but all in one ad? Please. Hire someone who knows a little about design and execution. You're only hurting yourself. The best thing the sales staff at TeaWorld could have done was told Kurvz to wait until they had a representable ad. But no. The magazine took the money even though it maybe the last they get from the company.
Aurora Snowboards, a new company featuring riders Damian Sanders, nor cal hard guy Josh Vert, and others bought a full spread ad in TeaWorld reminiscent of Spinal Tap's "Black Album." Big points for breaking the rules, however, we could barely find the snowboarder. Oh, yeah, there he is. Aurora is a partner ship between Spectrum Sports owner, 916's Randy, and some Japanese money men. But then isn't that always the case with new snowboard companies.
After getting a lack-luster start with some kind of 70s industrial (with a nod to x-girl style) Burton has come back with a photo that completely captures the essence of snowboarding like no other photo in Snowboarder magazine. Three snowboarders at the top of a run, bending over to buckle into their bindings. It could be an ad for Burton's new step-in plate bindings, but it isn't. The ad appears to be a preview for Burton's interactive 1995 catalog which should be available soon for Mac and Windows. In TeaWorld, however, they continue with their pseudo-industrial schlop. We're wondering. . . is Burton purposefully advertising industrial-style in TeaWorld while keeping their soulful ads in Snowboarder? Hmm. Kind of makes you wonder if they aren't making some kind of subtle statement about the editorial contents of the magazines.
Avalanche has added a cheesy twist to their Road Trip line with some funny pseudo-industrial headlines like "Shifty Into High Gear" and "Take One For A Spin." We just hope Avalanche knows the headlines are kooky, but in a good way.
The Movement has deconstructed their ads down to showing the star m logo and the words. Life Love Liberation. Apocalypse pulls through with a honestly funny Stevie Jackson bit. "Your picture with a pro snowboarder only $5.00. The photo of Dave England in a tub full of milk and Fruit Loops is worth the whole ad. HardWare Clothing company pulls off a great quarter pager with "Big Jacket." Black Flys, Blackspoon, Blackwidow. Here are some more ideas for anyone wanting to incorporate the word "black" in the name of their snowboard company: Black Top, Blackmail, Blackmarket, Black-n-blue, Blackball, Blackout, and Black Sabbath. . .no, that one's already taken, sorry.
Nidecker: sure, those three dollar Kodak CD scans will work just fine. Hey, World Jungle the disco thing is over. Didn't the Veeco guys mention it to you? Or did you miss the last La Costa Mesa family meeting? We're going to do this in all caps because someone at Rossignol isn't listening. . .YOUR ADVERTISING IS KILLING YOUR BOARD SALES. REPEAT: YOUR ADVERTISING IS KILLING YOUR BOARD SALES. Willy Bogner, have you lost your sense of style or are you just too rich to realize your Fire and Ice ads suck? It must be fun being surrounded by yes men. How to build an SMP ad in three easy steps: 1. Action photo. 2. Stripe down right side of page. 3. Insert logo. Sunshine Clothing read the Rossignol section. . . three times out loud! Please! Vision: are you just pulling ads out of your butts? You need direction.
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