Pittwater Life July 2017 Issue

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Coast With The Most. Mona Vale Rd Boost. Christmas In July. B-Line Backlash. Push Is On For A Plastic Free Forever.

Surfing Life

Surfing Life

Addicted to youth... but

ad agencies know better

Revealing window into how marketers now see surfing is a surprise for us all


few weeks ago, David

‘DJ’ Jones, the head

local at Newport Beach,

turned 70. DJ didn’t tell me

this, despite the fact that we

were both out the Peak at the

time. He just grinned at me

from the inside position and

went the next set wave.

“It’s his birthday,” another

of the crew told me. We

were both a bit awestruck.

As grommets we’d watched

a twenty-something DJ

ripping apart the Newport

shorebreaks on his sharplooking

yellow pintail.

Somehow, the thought of him

still getting waves off us in

2017 was both heart-warming

and vaguely unbelievable.

Surfing at 70? We’d never

dreamed of it.

Then a couple of weeks

later, on a flat weekend

morning, I leafed through

Sunday Life, the Sun

Herald’s colour magazine,

and had a very weird

moment indeed. For there,

back to back, were two ads

using surfing as a pitch

assist – to pensioners.

One, featuring a stokedlooking

older woman, was

for a superannuation fund

pitching you on managing

your retirement. The

other, featuring a stokedlooking

older man, was for

a charity pitching you on

your “legacy”: suggesting

you remember the charity

in your will, so it gets some

money when you, well, die.

Surfing? Retirement?


This is not coincidental.

It’s a revealing window into

how Australia’s advertising

industry now sees surfing.

And man, it is a long way

from how the surf culture

would like itself to be seen.

DJ’s birthday was only one

reason these ads tweaked

me. Lately, thanks to book

research, I’ve been jammed

up against a very different

time – the late 1960s and

early ’70s, the days when

professional surfing climbed

out of the primeval ooze

and began looking around

for sponsorship.

The corporations who

came sniffing around mostly

didn’t know a thing about

surfing. But their ad agencies

and marketing people swiftly

remedied that.

Smirnoff, who became the

biggest deal in the game for

a few bright years in Hawaii

in the ’70s, commissioned

a report from their

agency. The report makes

fascinating reading. “Why

Targeted: To admen, older surfers are the flavour of the month.

surfing?” it asked, then

answered itself. Surfers, it

said, were social pioneers,

world-changers: “They’re the

seekers, the style setters, the

young ones who will lead us

into the future.”

In Australia, the first

Bells pro event in 1973

was sponsored by Amco

Jeans, a denim label whose

advertising locked directly

on to the cool surfer teenrebel

look. Their print models

looked amazingly like the

teen blond surfers in the

ads for the pimple cream

Clearasil, the cute girl and

her scruffy-hot boyfriend

and their fantastic tagline:

with Nick Carroll

“I got pimples, but I still

got Jimmy Peterson.” Whoa!

Anyway. When the event

promotor Graham Cassidy

was approached by Coca-

Cola Bottlers later in ’73, he

discovered what Coke wanted:

to be in on the ground

floor with a young sport,

unpredictable and brilliant,

and full of blue sky. That’s

us, said Cassidy. And they ate

it up.

Across the board, the

pitch was clearer than

Clearasil. Surfing was young,

cool, adventurous, sexy,

dangerous, and you wished

you were one.

Surfing’s always loved

40 JULY 2017

Celebrating 25 Years

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