Skateboarding popular among teenagers? No way dude!
I was flipping through a Thrasher magazine when I came across this ad. (If you like, you can see the ad in the wild for yourself, on pages 4–5 of the April issue) The ad features 3 primary parts, the shoes the company is selling to you, the intended target audience, and what that intended target audience thinks they will look like when they finally reach roman deity-levels of street cred. I find the ad to be effective, for two simple reasons: the ad is very self-aware and relatable.
First, let’s tackle the self-awareness aspect. If the DC shoes marketing department knows one thing, it’s who buys their shoes. Primarily late teenagers and possibly young adult men who enjoy skateboarding, but while also having a particular style. Even the slogan is self-aware with “Defy convention” clearly marketing towards teenage boys who want to stand out from their peers with the way they dress, as well as the way they get from place to place (On a plank with wheels on it). The people at DC shoes also know that farm boys don’t have the ideal environment to perform skateboarding activities (eg. paved sidewalks), nor do the prospect of shoes so delicate you will ruin them by simple grass stains appeal to them, so they wisely chose to market to more a more urbane audience.
Not only is the ad self-aware, but by proxy the ad is also engaging to its core target audience. As an 18 year-old boy who plans to live in an urban environment, this ad is very relatable to me. I look at the young man with the line in the middle of his face and the other young man pulling off some sick moves on his board on graffiti-enveloped walls and I think to myself “Yes, that could totally be me. Despite the fact I have no skills whatsoever in the form of skateboarding, I somehow envy this guy and the shoes he wears.” I feel that if I were a skateboarder, I would be drooling over this ad, saving up my money to buy, what I have to admit, look like a pretty sweet pair of DC’s.
In conclusion, this ad is effective because it panders to the needs of it’s target audience like a doughnut shop next door to a diabetes clinic, it’s a sort of symbiotic relationship that produces money for DC shoes and also produces a large suave of happy, clique, acne-riddled rebels. The effect of a good ad can be profound, sparking massive cultural changes revolving around your product. If you make a product that divides opinion, then you will find success.
Party on Wayne