The next wave of youth coolness is flooding Madison Avenue, where advertising executives are reportedly tapping the selling power of a growing action sports subculture: female skateboarders.
Guys on skateboards? Forget it; already been (over)done. Girls on surfboards? So 10 years ago. But girls on skateboards? This is something new for the advertising industry, collectively referred to as Madison Avenue, the advertising world's New York City capital.
One of the latest examples of the ad world's crush on female skateboarders went live earlier this month, as Method cleaning products rolled out its first digital campaign with a video that closes with pro skater Mimi Knoop riding a giant bathroom sink.
"We chose to have a female skater in our 'Clean Happy' brand anthem music video for a few reasons," says Katie Molinari, Method's communications director. "We believed that our audience would relate more closely to a female skater. She conveys a feeling of empowerment and independence. Also, Mimi's performance of skating a halfpipe filled with 2,000 balloon bubbles makes the video highly unique and memorable."
Knoop, an X Games medalist with an advanced degree in visual arts from Radford University in Virginia, told ESPN.com that offers of commercial and stunt work have picked up recently. "I have done a few other commercials [and television] work in the past, one in particular [last month], where I had to skate in a wedding dress. There definitely seems to be an especially high demand for female skaters right now for this kind of mainstream market work."
"The female surfing thing was huge awhile back, [especially] with billboard advertising," says Tommy Means, 42, who directed the Method video. "You know, the girl's in a bathing suit and she's attractive. But then you look at females on skateboards, that is so much more hardcore. It's so authentic and so legitimate. We really wanted to tap into that empowerment."
Means, who owns the San Francisco-based Mekanism production studio, says he first caught wind of female skateboarders about five years ago while he was producing "Surfwise," a documentary about the Paskowitz family. "[These female skaters are] doing their own thing apart from the boys, and it's courageous. It's a brave sport for a woman to be doing. That says a lot of things for a brand. And part of our job [making commercials] is to present something to the audience that they've never seen before. And when a mainstream soap brand embraces [female skateboarding]? When a company says yes to that? It's happening."