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Tony Hawk: What Marketers Can Learn from Skateboarders

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Tony Hawk: What Marketers Can Learn from Skateboarders

Talks at Google,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

What can Tony Hawk teach you about authentic marketing?

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When Tony Hawk started skateboarding, he never thought the sport would make him a household name – rather, it made him an outcast who got picked on at school. Hawk was there through skateboarding’s evolution from uncool pastime to supercool Olympic sport, and according to Hawk, the transformation happened in no small part due to advertising dollars from brands that wanted to cash in on skateboarding’s cachet. Now, at age 53, Hawk and friends Ryan Maconochie and Adam Wilson have started their own creative agency, D/CAL, and they have some wisdom to impart about authenticity in advertising.


People may not have strong feelings about your product, but they can develop strong feelings when you link your product to a cultural phenomenon.

Tony Hawk’s skateboarding skill has marketed everything from bagel bites to Velcro wallets. How does skateboarding strengthen the branding of something utterly unrelated to the sport? For many, skateboarding seems like a cool, exclusive club, so when advertising features skateboarding in an authentic way, brands and consumers both have a good experience. Jeep is another brand that has used Tony Hawk’s skateboarding and other unrelated sports to create a strong cultural identity.

People don’t generally have strong feelings about SUVs as a functional product category, and yet Jeep has become a brand that people care about deeply. Jeep owners even give each other the “Jeep wave,” which makes...

About the Speakers

Tony Hawk is a professional skateboarder and the co-founder, along with Ryan Maconochie and Adam Wilson, of creative advertising agency D/CAL.

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