Tony Hawk, over the years, has hawked everything from Mtn Dew and McDonald’s to his own video games and clothing. Yet, when he starred in a Bagel Bites commercial in 2002, some fans questioned whether the skateboarding legend was selling out.
Now, he’s reuniting with Bagel Bites in a campaign that pokes fun at his earlier run with the brand. The new effort focuses Hawk’s role as a dad and on dads in general, albeit with a bit of skating.
The campaign comes from D/CAL, the creative agency Hawk co-founded last year with Adam Wilson, Ryan Maconochie and Jared Prindle. Yes, Hawk, who was mocked years ago for appearing in various ads is now part of the industry that makes them.“It’s a weird time for promotions and endorsements because they’re so short-lived now,” Hawk, 51, tells Ad Age. “When I did it before, it was an annual type of thing or multi-year. Nowadays, these promotions are very much in a shorter time frame because of social media. I would love to do something with more longevity, given the chance.”
That 2002 Bagel Bites commercial (part of a campaign from DDB) showed three kids watching Hawk on TV until Hawk seems to crash through the screen into the den where they’re watching to snag some of their Bagel Bites. (Ah, those were simpler times, before kids could watch clips of stars on social media on their cellphones, and before being an influencer was a job.)
“It’s been almost two decades since Hawk endorsed Bagel Bites as one of his first mainstream sponsorships, and our fans who watched the commercial in 2002 and grew up eating Bagel Bites are now dads themselves and the brand’s target audience,” says Kat Goodman, Bagel Bites brand manager.
The brand’s team got in touch with D/CAL to see if they would want to collaborate, and the agency led the strategy and creative development for the campaign, Goodman says. Other agencies on the project included Starcom on media, Digitas on social and ICF Next on PR.
Hawk shared his thoughts about the campaign, the rise of social media and agency life. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did this come about?
Every once in a while, I will literally go to the store and buy Bagel Bites and post it on my social media, like my stories. It’s tongue in cheek. I’ll use a hashtag like “never forget.” I’m hoping that they saw that at some point and got the idea but I can’t be too sure. They approached me and said they’d like to do something that is more about you being a father, and I do that more than I skate these days, so I thought that would be a great opportunity.
How often does your family eat Bagel Bites?
I’d say once every week or two. It’s more when they have a crew over and we want a good snack to put out for everyone.
You’ve done a lot of endorsement deals. What do you think it was about this one that annoyed people?
When I first got this endorsement 17 years ago, that was one of the first times I ever felt that sort of backlash in a very direct way, like that was something that people would say to my face. Through the years, especially navigating corporate sponsorships and other types of promotions, and doing my own social media, I’ve learned that I can be authentic and still be promoting things. I think that this is a perfect example of taking that control but also putting reference to it in terms of this is what people thought of this the first time, and here we are again in a different way and in a different light but very much referring to how it got there.
How much of what we see in the videos did you write or suggest?
That would be hard to quantify. It all was approved by me. Some of the detailed dialog was definitely written by me. We had a few different concepts. This concept was one that spoke to me more than the other ones. The idea that I could be honest about how that endorsement affected how people perceive me; what do they consider [to be] selling out and are you at all compromising your values to do something like this? I got to speak about that honestly but also in a way that’s fun and a little bit tongue in cheek as well.
You’ve been pretty active on social media, which wasn’t around when the first ad came out. Where do you like to spend the most time on social media?
Personally and where I enjoy the most engagement would be Instagram. I feel like that audience is a little more discerning. I like to tailor my social media to the different outlets, too. For Twitter, I’ll sometimes change the vibe or the language of what I’m trying to put out there. For Facebook, I try to keep it a little more general. I’ve just found that some platforms get more engagement if you go in a certain direction with it. It’s fun, it’s a challenge, and I like that. And I like keeping it unique for each platform. On Instagram, I’m looking more at other people. On Twitter, I’m reading mostly just my own replies. Twitter just gets to be kind of overwhelming with the amount of people I follow and the noise, and a lot of times the negativity; it gets tricky.
Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Instagram?
It’s mostly skate-centric stuff and people who don’t take themselves too seriously. There are funny feeds that follow people that appropriate skateboarding for ads but clearly aren’t skaters, such as Asphalt Poser Club and Why I don’t skateboard. They’re sort of the watchdogs of the advertising world.
How are you finding the agency life?
It’s been fun. It’s challenging and I don’t pretend to know too much outside of my expertise. At the very least I know what it’s like to be the subject and know what it’s like dealing with the client and the agency. I try to keep that perspective and try to give them information based on that. And to give that some validation because a lot of time the agencies don’t consider the talent to be any creative force in the process.
Do you feel like that’s changing?
It’s changing now because of social media, because people are in control of their own narrative through their feeds. So, if you’re going to try to sign up an influencer per se, a lot of the time that influencer is going to insist on doing things in their own way and in their own language. I think as an advertiser you have to honor that and not think that you’re going to do it your own way based on what you learned in college.
Where is your favorite place to skate?
My ramp (in California) because I can do it on my own terms. I’m not on display. I can try things over and over if I want to learn a new trick, and I trust that it’s always perfect. That’s the ramp that you see in these spots.
The campaign kicked off June 4 with the interview-style video titled “Sell-Out” followed by a “Rad Dad Squad” video, released June 6, featuring humorous stunts for dads.[from http://bit.ly/2VwvxLm]