A Secret African Wave, Nike’s Bitcoin World Champ And The Ol’ Pro Surfer-Bait and-Switch
It’s the best surf "ads" of the year.
It’s an oxymoron, isn’t it? Advertising is inherently bad, that’s a common sentiment.
We get it. Ads suck, when they suck. But done brilliantly, transparently, they work. When the true DNA of why a brand exists comes through in an ad, it can be incredible.
As you know, Stab’s biz model relies on advertising and advertisers. Without paywalls and e-commerce, the cost of entry’s the occasional ad. But, notice we control who you see? You don’t get the same programmatic google ads that follow you around the internet. We do our best to play gatekeeper to who we allow to haunt our site and magazine.
Because we see you with your ad blockers, we see you chirp chrip chirping about sponsored posts. But hey, that’s how we manage to rent floating bridges in the ocean, or pay for the hair + make-up on Sage Erickson, or for a boat in the Ments with Jordy Smith and 12 cleanskin surfboards.
This post is about saying thanks to those supporters who believe in Stab and work with us. In a strange kinda way, you should as well. Without advertising, we’d have a paywall and you’d have much less to look at, and no one to tease.
So, what's the difference between a web edit and advertising? You’re right, it’s a delicate one. What we’ve tried to do here is embrace storytelling with a creative bend. This is what put a bunsen burner under us this year.
9. Billabong → New Wave. (Hit the triangle above.)
When this clip dropped, Ashton tossed this one to staff writer Michael Ciaramella.
“I'm a sucker for clever advertising," Michael wrote. "And while sex will always sell, it's nice when someone goes the extra kilometer to dilute lust with creativity. Billabong has done just that with its imaginative, irreverent, and latest marketing campaign -- 'New Wave.' The video pretty much speaks for itself but there's one thing I must bring up. How fucking good is Italo? From his surfing to his interviews to mafia-don appearance, I simply can't get enough of the guy. His cameo in this clip, while brief, outshines the attractive curvature. He should be an actor or a porn star or something!”
And, as much as you might not like to hear this, within two days the piece sat at number one in ‘trending.' It was Stab’s most-read story of the week.
As they say, we live in a world bloated with data yet starved for wisdom!
Full disclosure: Stab directed the Iggy beach shoot in Hawaii, and we’re big fans of this story, the abridged version of which goes something like this: Iggy lives poolside in Florida. Literally. Poolside, tanning most days. His people called Billabong’s people, asking after boardshorts.
Sure, said Billabong but would you like us to make some custom pieces for you? A collab even?
Yup, says Iggy, and before you know it he’s on stage at the Billabong house playing “The Passenger” with Creed Fucking McTaggart the night before the Pipe Masters.
Okay, so perhaps Billabong should have supplied the WSL with a few different ads for the Pipe Masters. The repetition almost undid the campaign’s charm, during the greatest world title showdown since Adriano took the world in 2015.
And, oh, of course, Iggy’s old. So’s the Louvre. We’re not sure what’s more beautiful, the Parisian feat of architecture, or the acoustic version of “The Endless Sea” Iggy crooned with Creed, on the beach at Log Cabins during the shoot.
At the depths of the surf industry’s darkest hours, Vissla swam against the undertow of negativity and a shitty market, to launch a new brand. The feedback wasn’t pretty and they endured the babble. They released very good and very reasonably priced wetsuits, partnered with shapers and got behind their craft. Which perplexed almost everyone at the start, but eventually won over the most jaded of skeptics.
Their creativity continues with the way they roll out wetsuit ad campaigns. Yeah, sure this stuff won’t win a Cannes lion, but it’s a lot more thoughtful than a Landrover Defender being parked on the sand while “marquee athletes” don hoods and booties and paddle out into frigid offshore waters fanned with icy offshore winds.
Last year we stole the youngest Wright boy, for our Mongrel Mike shoot and the first Stab x Quiksilver collab boardshort.
We don’t care how jaded you are, our mostly-black trunks, with button press studs and neoprene panels, could melt even the most cold-hearted Stab commenter. This year, we ripped a color pallet from a recent Chanel campaign and worked with the ever-talented Tom Purbrick at Quiksilver for a more poppy version of the same silhouette, the same features as last year’s model (which, amazingly, sold out in two days).
This year, we set out with Quiksilver for the Italian Riviera, with Leo Fioravanti as a gun-wielding, lady-slaying, tube-packing International Man of Mystery.
Yes, the inclusion in this list is biased and corrupt but these boardshorts are genuinely special.
Maybe it was after the 2005 Cronulla riots. Maybe it was the purge of Southern Cross tatts. Maybe it was just globalisation. But for a while there, Australians lacked the outward, aesthetic pride we once did.
That time is no longer.
The new bastion of patriotism are heart-and-soul pubs and bowling clubs. The schooner-in-hand is at an all-time high.
No surf brand has picked up on this more than Burleigh-born Rhythm. Their new capsule features prints lifted as if from 1970s vinnies store sales. Nanda Ormond is again behind the animation x SurfStitch and these clips have the right kinda vibe around them.
From the beginning of time, the best brands solve a problem. And, the genesis of O’Neill up there in the cool climate of Northern California existed to allow Jack O’Neill to surf longer.
When he died on June 2, the brand that carries his namesake, O’Neill, celebrated his truly cinematic life with a fitting cinematic release (along with massive paddle-outs around the world).
It would have been so easy to show grey-hairs recalling his legacy. But recalling Jack in his prime was a fitting way to say goodbye to a genuine culture shifter.
It’s a delicate line to celebrate Death and Brand Message at the same time, but this was executed just the right way. The message never changed. Jack O’Neill’s story is one that transcends time, trends, and seasons.
It’s a common philosophy that the best brands need to be transparent to connect. The Dane Reynolds brand is testament to that. When he was contracted to Quik, with the inclusive Quik-owned DC footwear deal, he’d show up at ASP press conferences wearing Vans, despite his three-million-plus contract.
He walked away from an energy drink sponsor, because, well, he didn’t drink the fucking things.
It’s very likely that Dane Reynolds will never ever see another paycheck as significant as those of yesteryear, but he only endorses what he believes in and his fans love him for it. Dane Reynolds has a group of loyalists who will follow him to whatever his next venture is.
A web edit that’s really an ad? Bring it on, Dane. Premium Violence was as much a capsule as it was a clip, the whole thing packaged chaotically and thrillingly around quick strikes to Portugal and Costa Rica, before the arrival of Reynolds’ and his longtime lady, Courtney’s twins.
The ad won Dane and Former's Warren Smith a Surfer Poll Award for best web edit.
At near five bricks a year JJF wasn’t cheap, but in the winner-take-all economy we’re living in, Hurley’s partnership with John John Florence was a stroke of genius. Settled in a holistic way, a seamless pairing moments before John shirked the chains of gravity and launched his meteoric rise above the surfing world, from his Eddie victory to film releases to multiple world titles. And full credit to Hurley, who have approached the marketing around him in their own way, rather than a watered-down version of the parent company Nike’s “performance” or “innovation” doctrine. They make him look like the everyday surfer, with a simple life, who just happens to surf extremely well. Which is kinda half right. Behind the scenes is the John-tourage, a collection of over 12-plus people that provide a blanket of protection and pampering unseen by any surfer before him. (Fun fact: John John reportedly hasn’t had to visit Foodland in over two years.)
Anyway, what we dig about this ad is the way it avoids the trophy in the air pinata, or a microsecond tiling of full rotation air reverses; just a 30-second clip of a kid whose life has turned out pretty fucken surreal. JJF is Nike’s surfing bitcoin, purchased at just the right time. This 30-second ad of understated moments around the ocean is evidence they know how to use him.
If you happened to be on the North Shore of Oahu this season and saw the "Go John? posters and sailing flags hanging houses and local cafes, you’d assume he was sponsored by a local seamstress. The post-win rollout with the basic 2x logo, as opposed to any trickery around two Johns and two world titles, was subtle and sophisticated all at once.
The last piece of serious earth-shaking noise The Search made was the Rip Curl event in Barra De La Cruz, in Mexico back in 2006. Since then, it’s been pretty quiet. And, understandably so. It’s 2017. You can't exactly set your watch around unknown spots being uncovered like you used to. And despite the inspiration to find waves coming from falling glaciers, The Search had been wavering. Rip Curl’s focus had been on the podium (which had been yielding a serious roll call of world champions).
This release, in Feb 2017, was the biggest thing in surfing since Kelly’s Wave Pool release at the end of 2015. Rolling up to a perfect wave without another soul on the beach with a three-time world champ who’d recently taken a personal year from the tour... it was a return to form of the highest order.
There are four catchphrases that will always connect with a surfer, any age or stage: Warm. Breaking over sand. Ruler-edge perfect. And empty. Mick's Snake had this all, on an extraterrestrial level. Edited to give nothing away to its secret location? A fucking masterstroke.
The most guarded secret in surfing was once Kelly’s Wave. Today, it’s Mick Fanning’s passport and the ink stamp that reveals the African country The Snake slithers.