Known for its watersports innovation, O’Neill has been at the forefront and leading the charge before the surf "industry" was ever created.
O’Neill’s technical product offering is unparalleled," says Marketing Director Brian Kilpatrick. "A lot of companies throw the word “innovation” around pretty loosely. We make products with discernible features and benefits – products that keep you in the water longer. Between our pinnacle cold water arsenal, the Psychofreak series, the enviro-friendly RG8 series, the O’Zone/Skins/24-7 sun protection series and Hyperfreak/Freak series board shorts, we have all the bases covered to enhance any and every water sport enthusiasts’ experience."
But creativity doesn't hang its hat in the product design lab, O'Neill is also known for pushing the creative envelope with their ad campaigns, managing to successfully create visual captivation of the brand with high stopping power.
Their most recent campaign, titled "Freakshow," crosses over both surf and wake categories. It is loose, fun, and highlights the product in a uniquely bizarre way. The inspiration for the campaign came from hand crafted circus posters and the idea of freakishly skilled athletes paired with novel products was intriguing.
Having been in the works for a while, Kilpatrick and team finally pitched the idea of the freakshow and it was met with great enthusiathsm. The team hit the ground running and traveled near and far to various ends of the globe to capture each of the freaks in action, and then designers worked their magic to compose images together creating a seamless campaign.
"Everyone at O'Neill believes deeply that product is king," says Kilpatrick. "If you can illustrate the amount of dedication and commitment to excellence we invest in product innovation everyone will get behind the idea. None of this would have been possible without the visionary maverick, Jack O'Neill, his son, our President and CEO Pat O'Neill and our dedicated team of product designers and guru (John Hunter), our graphic design wizard (Alex Luce) and our staff photographer (Marc Prefontaine) who was never afraid to take chances and go for it."
Freakshow features O'Neill's entire range of both athletes and products, highlighting the connection of the athlete's personality to each product. Wakeboarder Nick Taylor is paired with the Compression Molder TNT Vest, wakeboarder Aaron Reed is The Outlaw, surfer Tim Reys is "The Mutant" – a two headed modular maniac that performs in all conditions, and Corey Lopez is the Human Volcano – blowing up and flexed to illogical extremes in minimal seam madness. The personalities of the athletes and the specs of each product are fused together to create the ultimate Freakshow attractions.
The campaign’s goal was to create stopping power for today's short-attention consumer. "A couple years ago at the US Open of Surfing we actually clocked how long people would stop at our set-up before they moved on," says Kilpatrick. "It's a good thing if you can get someone to stop for more than 30 seconds."
O’Neill Wetsuits is no stranger to weird, show-stopping ad campaigns. In the past they’ve accomplished the same level of unusual attraction with campaigns like “The Alien,” where all ads centered around images showing Alien abduction; The Psycho, which mirrored the “scary talent” that their products and athletes were capable of, and other campaigns such as In It For Life and Reality Bites (browse below).
O'Neill is on the verge of their 60th anniversary coming up in 2012. Jack O'Neill made his first wetsuit and opened the first surf shop in 1952 and since then O'Neill has successfully expanded itself to be a globally influential and pioneering brand in several categories while still maintaining their core competence and strong support for their dealers. "Slow, steady, organic growth has helped us stay flexible, " says Kilpatrick. " In the ever changing economic climate not many brands can claim nearly 60 years of relevance and market share."
Check out the Freakshow for yourself at http://www.oneill.com/freakshow/ and stay tuned for more of the latest happenings from O'Neil as they celebrate 60 years with heritage products, anniversary-centric campaigns and much more.