Skateboard copywriting has existed for as long as skateboarders have been selling products.
Copywriting may just be salesmanship in words, but the naturally creative minds of skateboarders have made skate copy particularly interesting over the years. With the help of skately.com and the vast ad collection in their skate library, here’s several ads that stick out for their great use of copywriting to get across a sales message in a fun & unique way.
World Industries “Scratch Off” Decks – 1998
The first example is an ad from Steve Rocco’s legendary World Industries. World began in 1987 and went on to become one of the most recognized brands in skateboarding. Even more impressive is that the brand reached peak popularity primarily before the internet-era. This means that their marketing efforts were largely influenced by print advertisements and great copywriting. Rocco has even been called a “copywriting genius” in this article on allgoodcopy.com.
This ad stands out for how well it draws the reader in from the top down. The bright yellow “New Contest!” bubble quickly grabs your attention. You’re then lead into a short, bold text that makes you think “hmm, what do they mean by ‘legalized gambling’?” Then, even the first line of the text paragraph is super short, making it easy to get drawn further into the text. This is a great example of how the beginning of an ad should be super short, simple, and peak your curiousity to keep reading. The middle section presents the selling message and the end leaves you laughing, making it easier to remember the ad for the next time you see these boards on sale.
Shorty’s “IQ Test” – 1998
Have you ever been on Facebook and saw one of those stupid Buzzfeed quizzes like “Which Disney character are you?” These quizzes are actually some of Buzzfeed’s most shared social media content. People are naturally drawn to these quizzes as they make them feel like they’re learning something about themselves. This Shorty’s ad from 1998 was already taking advantage of the enticing quiz mentality that draws readers in. Moreso, the quiz itself is a direct play upon their products and the hottest competitor product. There was also a funny “solution” right under the quiz, asking the reader to contact them for stickers (further promoting the brand among skaters).
In addition to the I.Q. Test, the ad features “mini-ads” for their other products. All the other ads are directed at the consumer using “you” and “your” in some way. For example, “Plastic risers help keep you from getting wheelbite”, “(Silverados) Help you tell your nose from tail”, and “Doh Doh’s Bushings make your trucks YOUR trucks.”
Blind “Eternal Life” Decks – 2007
The actual text of this ad may not be that special, but the name that Blind came up with for this deck construction is. Blind easily could have called this a “carbon fiber inlay deck”. Instead, they call it an “Eternal Life” deck, which is perfectly fitting to their iconic and established brand image with the grim reaper. The point is that great copywriting starts with the product and it’s not just about the text found in the ad.
As for the copywriting text of this ad, there are still a few good points to mention. The ad specifically states that this deck withstands twice the force of a seven-ply deck, giving an exact and believable figure rather than just saying “it’s way stronger than a normal board”. Finally, the 90 day warranty claim is at the end of the text in large font, reassuring the buyer that they get their money’s worth when buying.
Enjoi “Soggy Deck” Impact Technology – 2016
There are two constants that work in copywriting – humor and sex. The only real exceptions to this would be if you were selling something serious like a cancer treatment, but this is skateboarding. Something sexual will almost always attract attention, especially from 10-30 year old men, arguably the target market for many skate brands. The challenge is that this also impacts your brand image. If you post something too sexual or sexist, you risk losing female followers and damaging your reputation. Enjoi has used sexual references & humor very well throughout the years while never appearing to objectify women or come off as weird.
In addition, nearly all Enjoi ads have a uniform style with a blue or orange background such as this ad. This style gives their ads consistency and improves brand recognition for the company.
Toy Machine x Volcom Collab Pack – 2014
I know I wasn’t the only kid who would immediately flip to the back cover of Transworld Skateboarding to check out the latest Toy Machine ad. Ed Templeton is known for being a great artist, but many of his iconic Toy Machine ads have important elements of copywriting. This ad especially illustrates how Ed would make the text blurbs of his “sect” characters wrap around the page.
Instead of just using a boring old text bubble, the wrapping blurb would drive the reader to spin the magazine all around to read the message. This essentially created an interactive element for the ad reader. The beginning of the text is rightside up, making it easy to start and fun to keep reading. The result is text that nearly everyone would read until the end. The text was usually very funny, sometimes even just blatently stating a sales message like this:
“Yeah, we did it… The power of Collin Provost inspired two life exploding companies to collaborate together and come up with a scheme, er, product line designed to vacuum the cash right out of your pockets and into our highly secured vaults where we store our towering piles of money…”
Nike SB “All Court CK” – 2015
Nike SB would have one of the largest marketing budgets of any of these brands, so it should be expected that they have great copywriting work we can learn from. This All Court CK ad brings many marketing elements together. However, the copywriting itself creates a relaxed and relatable feel despite the performance athletic/corporate image of Nike. It uses Cory’s “chill and fun-loving” look to talk about how the shoes are “at-home” in any situation.
Whether wearing these shoes while pole-vaulting on a sunny Wednesday, playing volleyball on Thursday, or skating on Friday and the “lost weekends that follow”, this copywriting is designed to sell an idea, feeling, and image as opposed to technical features or performance.
Grind King “Features” Ad – 1996
This Grind King ad from ’96 was fully aware of the medium which it was published. Knowing it would be published within a magazine full of skate photos, it stands out with only the use of words. The ad is short and to the point, stating all necessary info such as the guarantee, weight, sizes, and even uses space at the bottom to push their skate tool.
Understanding the medium in which a copywriting piece will be used is now more important than ever. Different people go to different places like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to do different things. The same copywriting work can not be used effectively across all platforms. Copywriting should cater to a target audience within each media outlet and use that specific platform accordingly.
Girl Skateboards “Girl News” Ad – 2006
This Girl Skateboards ad manged to do something ingenious that’s very hard to pull off. The ad is selling Girl’s “Tabloid Series” decks which feature all of these exact tabloid photos as the deck graphics themselves. The only difference is that the print ad has a single line at the top stating “Tabloid graphics now available from Girl!!”
There are few situations where this approach would work to sell a product. This ad executes it flawlessly as the ad is funny and super easy to remember for the next time buyers see this deck series on sale. Considering the decks have exactly the same graphic on them, buyers will then remember how they liked the ad, increasing their chances of buying the boards.
Krux Trucks “Colt Cannon’s Face” – 2002
This Krux ad shows how they know their target audience and then write in a way that identifies with them. Skateboarders have always been anti-establishment or anti-corporate in some form. Generally, skateboarders like to support the little guy and feel like we are buying from fellow skateboarders like us. The Krux marketing team was well aware of this mentality among skaters.
This ad plays on the little guy mentality in several ways, saying things like “we’re just a little truck company”, “we support a small team of skaters” and “it’s like a family”. The ad then ends by poking fun at “Industy Insiders” which most likely references a corporate marketing group. The overall idea is simply making buyers feel like their money goes to good people when they purchase Krux Trucks.
Spitfire Wheels “F1 Parkburners” – 2009
This Spitfire ad is part of a series that ran from 2009-2010. The F1 ad series changed very little during it’s run with only a few words difference between ads. This is a very short example of copywriting but it sells a benefit and not a technical feature.
This ad could have a scientific explanation about the F1 urethane’s development and how it’s different from other wheels. The consumer just doesn’t care about that. All they need to know is that these wheels will last long, grip when you (customer focused writing) need it and maintain control when you’re skating parks. The ad text is then given credibility by how someone respectable (Peter Hewitt) trusts the product and what has been written in the ad.
The ads featured in this post have been originally uploaded by the guys at skately.com. For more epic skateboard advertisements and copywriting, please check out their skate library featuring hundreds of skate ads dating all the way back to 1978. You can also follow them on Instagram at @skatelyposse to see classic skate videos and photos posted regularly.
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