There’s a reason so many of these dodgy endorsement deals date back to the late 90s/early 2000s. Snowboarding was exploding in popularity, but still hadn’t lost the whiff of underdog cool that came from being banned by authorities in many resorts just a few years before.
Also, in those halcyon pre-recession, pre-Tory days, companies were much more easily persuaded to loosen their purse-strings. And so snowboarders regularly found themselves cashing cheques from the likes of mobile phone carriers, and it was perfectly normal to see ads for Braun electric razors in snowboard mags. Orange sponsored the Brits, Tim Warwood did Clearasil commercials, and former Whitelines editor Chris Moran went on an all expenses paid snowboard trip (to Greenland no less!) courtesy of Right Guard deodorant!
But the deal that surely sums up that era the best is this – British rider Johno Verity advertising Vo5 Hair Gel in 2003.
For starters, there’s the fact that hair gel itself is almost a product from a bygone era (do people do wet-look quiffs any more? Not round our ends). Then there’s the shot, which somehow manages to make it look like Johno’s face has been photoshopped onto someone else’s hair – as if some Stalinist art director decided to eliminate an ideologically undesirable barnet.
But most of all there’s the god-awful wording of the ad. Designed so it could run not only in snowboard mags, but also in the pages of Loaded, Maxim, FHM et al (remember them?), it arrives at its terrible punch-line by way of every action sports cliché going. Honestly, if one of Don Draper’s minions had suggested this they’d be on a fast-track to defenestration from the 37th floor of the Sterling Cooper building.