Let us be honest. A quality advertisement can be as good as a great story or photo spread or football game or film or anything. A quality advertisement draws the viewer forward and allows him to soak in the singularity of a brand message. It allows him to be unclouded and appreciate something whose sole purpose is to make him go to the store and purchase something. A quality advertisement is the highest art of capitalism.
All men know this and, as much as they agitate over urinary tract infection advertisements in their favorite magazines or television programs, they also watch Mad Men in record numbers. A television show that focuses on the advertising industry in the swinging 1960s. The highest art.
SURFING Magazine was just being birthed in these same swinging 1960s and in the January ’68 issue there appeared this scary advertisement for Greg Noll Surfboards and Mickey Dora the person, as far as I can tell. It is, nonsensically, a mummy holding the Rosetta Stone and magnifying glass, magnifying what looks like a dog but what may be a cat. Da Cat. The mummy peers into the viewer and wishes “one and all a brain strobing high holidays.” “High” is colored pink. It is followed by an angry screed denouncing concentration camp lifeguard towers and Mussolini-type property owners and orders surfers to shake up the system before the San Andreas Fault does the shaking for them. He signs off by saying, “Sleep tight children for tomorrow we all might wake up dead.”
Two fascist references, a call to violent social unrest and the threat of death? What were Da Bull and Da Cat selling? I have no idea but I want to buy! I want to go to the store and buy whatever it may be today before the San Andreas Fault explodes. And I want to use whatever it may be to totally f–k up concentration camp lifeguard towers and Mussolini property owners. Sons of bitches! I want to go get weird in the ocean and express myself to the fullest extent of my capabilities.
I feel that Don Draper would look at this advertisement and furrow his brow. He wouldn’t know what was being sold. He would be confused by the mummy and the Rosetta Stone and the magnified dog that is probably supposed to be a cat. He would say, “Death and destruction are not good motivators. They should not be tied to a product. Go back to the drawing board and give me something I can use.” But you know what? Don Draper is a concentration camp lifeguard and a Mussolini property owner. Get f–ked, Don Draper! Me and Mickey and Greg are going to go get weird. —Chas Smith