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Slam City: If they have time to risk their necks, they have time to learn the pianoThis is one of my favourite adverts of all time. It produced a roar of delight when I first saw it, and it still does.
One of the earlier publishers of the magazine complained of a Volkswagen advert offering free badges to people who might otherwise be inclined to steal them from cars that it served no purpose, because these people would not (yet) be buying Volkswagen cars. By that measure, whether an advert appealed to people working on a magazine rather than the people buying the magazine is irrelevant — and the fact that it can still raise a big smile, even less so.
But the wit and skill with which this advert was devised and executed also perfectly communicated a sense of Slam City’s status as the de facto coolest (for want of a better word) skateboard shop in London in a way which could be understood by all the different audiences who saw it. The understatement distinguished them in masterful way from the more manic approach of M Zone (ignore the one in the current issue and consider the M Zone advert from 1987 instead) and put some useful blue water between the two for anyone who did not appreciate their two different markets.
Did it sell any skateboards at the time? Possibly. Did it contribute to Slam City’s long term survival by helping position themselves in a particular place at the top of the market, out of the reach of immediate competition? Yes. This was a place of pilgrimage for many, many skateboard generations.

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