Read California Does Tricks With Top Skateboarder

Skateboarders hardly seem the bookish type, but Read California hopes an ad with one of the sport’s champions, Tony Hawk, will show boys that reading leads to success.

Created by Lawrence Mayo & Ponder in Newport Beach, Calif., the TV spot shows Hawk failing to master a difficult skateboarding trick. He is then seen in a chair with a book, explaining that reading is an easier and less painful way to learn.

The spot, aimed at boys 9-13, keeps the tagline “Read today. See where it takes you,” introduced by LM&P when it won the account a year and a half ago.

This is the first time since LM&P came aboard that Read California has focused solely on boys.

“Young boys’ reading scores are just not rising as fast as we’d like,” said Lisa Fisher, director of Read California in Sacramento. In addition, a recent poll conducted by the National Education Association found fewer than one in five boys 12-18 read for recreation every day.

The spot is one of two created this year for Read California; the other shows a twentysomething guy who still lives with his parents because he didn’t take the time to read.

Administered by the Governor’s Office of the Secretary of Education, the campaign is budgeted at just under $3 million this year.

“It’s his very unlikeliness [as a spokesman] that makes him a good choice,” LM&P president and co-creative director Lynda Lawrence says of Hawk. “He’s not the first person you think about when you talk about reading, but it works for this audience. If we picked a nerd, it wouldn’t have the surprise value.”

Read California also believes he was an ideal candidate because he credits reading with turning him on to skateboarding at age 9, and he reads to his own children. Also, skateboarding ranks as the No. 3 sport among kids 6-18, and 91 percent of skateboarders are boys.

The ad broke last week and will air in California through June.