It’s no secret that when companies try to incorporate skating into their advertising and marketing, they tend to fall flat.
They often get simple things wrong, like filming a skater’s ass for an entire line, using a horrid skate pun as a slogan, or they just commit other basic offenses that any sensible skater would know how to avoid.
But back in the late ’90s, Nike figured out a clever and unconventional way to reach skaters as they developed what became one of the earliest and most memorable TV commercial campaigns to feature skateboarding—the “What If?” series.
The commercials took a thought-provoking approach that showed skaters Nike understood skateboarders’ gripes using a simple question: “What if we treated all athletes the way we treat skateboarders?” It still remains one of the best examples of self-aware skate advertising in 2021.
We decided to do a little digging and talk to the heads behind the campaign to tell us how the idea came about. It’s not every day a marketing wiz will let you in on their creative processes, so consider yourself lucky to get some special intel from one of the very best in the biz.
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