We’d been hearing rumblings of the Bones Brigade film from a few different sources. It was the type of project that only comes your way if it’s meant to – something so special that it picks you, not the other way around. So last year our good friends at Topspin Media informed us that they were going to be helping Stacy release and market the film, and they wanted us to come on board to help develop all of the creative and interactive assets around the film, as well as help come up with the marketing plan, there was only one answer.
To us, this film wasn’t just another documentary. Just another project. Everything that came out of the Bones Brigade – the skating, the fierce competitiveness, the mindset, the artwork, the fresh approach, and the disruptive nature of everything they put out – was fused so deeply into our blood it’s undeniable. This was essentially where it all started for us. Both directly through our fascination with Powell-Peralta, the Bones Brigade, and the artwork and ads they put out, but also indirectly through all of the other skate company artwork, branding and ads that were born out of them.
So, not only were we dying to work on this project, but we were also deathly afraid of getting it. The expectations were high. Not everyone can just take this type of project – one with such a rich history of groundbreaking and trendsetting design and branding elements – and get it right. You have to have lived and breathed it – you have to not only know where it came from, but also the why and how. It’s that unspoken fact of skate culture as a whole – you either get it, or you don’t.
So, when we found ourselves sitting across from Stacy Peralta for the first time as he interviewed us to really see if we did “get it” and were the right creative agency to take on such a special project for him, we were filled with equal parts excitement and fear.
We focused on taking the original assets and both turning them into something entirely new, but that at the same time felt entirely part of the legacy. This involved using original assets in a new way in the logo, packaging, and promotional materials we designed, as well as creating authentic online experiences like the initial Animal Chin “Have You Seen Him?” awareness campaign and the Instagram-based (because skate, and the Bones Brigade themselves, live on Instagram) engagement campaign. This involved understanding the messaging and knowing it couldn’t be a sales pitch. It had to be authentic through and through.
See, this project epitomizes the absolute need to get it right from a branding and design perspective, and the need to integrate all of the elements so it feels completely cohesive. If we didn’t get it right – if it didn’t feel authentic to the core, it would be discarded by the culture as a fake immediately. The stakes were high when we found ourselves digging through the archives with Stacy, George Powell, and the rest of the SkateOne team. It had to be right.
And this isn’t true just for the Bones Brigade. It’s the approach we take with every project, but unfortunately not the approach everyone takes. It’s amazing how many great films, albums, and brands fail because they don’t get this right. If it’s not authentic – if the proper attention isn’t paid to the details and the culture that surrounds the project or entity – it’s just going to smell. Some people will see it and instantly know why, others won’t really understand why, but subconsciously it just won’t feel right and they’ll reject it.
I think this is what most people who don’t do what agencies like ours do for a living truly don’t understand. Branding, design, marketing – if it’s not authentic – if it doesn’t speak to the audience from a core place – it’s dead in the water. If we had tried to take this film and develop a new “current” look, glossed it up, or had we just scratched the surface of the Powell-Peralta and Bones Brigade artwork legacy without immersing ourselves in it completely, it would have been rejected by the masses immediately. Same as if we had developed some cookie cutter interactive campaigns because it’s what’s trendy or what the “social media marketing pros” tell you to do. And not just by the core skate culture that is it’s base, but also by the collective society as a whole because it just wouldn’t have been “right”.
This was an amazing project. Both a success from artistic and culture perspectives, as well as financial and independent ownership ones. If you haven’t seen the film, do yourself a favor. And if you want to take a deep dive beyond the artwork and branding, into the full breakdown of the interactive and direct-to-fan campaigns – complete with dollar amounts and nerdy analytics – go check out Bob’s blog post on the Topspin Media blog. It’s pretty insane.
Thanks again to Topspin Media, Stacy Peralta, George Powell, and the entire SkateOne team for trusting us with such an amazing piece of skate history. We’re forever indebted to you for the opportunity.