Bates, PacSun Get Close to Teens

With ads that feature real surfing and skateboarding teens talking about their hip boardware, Bates USA West has become the latest proprietor of reality television.

The Irvine, Calif., agency has unveiled three of five new 30-second spots it created for retail clothing chain Pacific Sunwear. Each features live video footage of everyday teens. No actors were hired to appear in TV ads or supporting print work.

The spots will run on MTV, ESPN and ESPN2; the print ads will appear in Spin, Seventeen and Skateboarder magazines.

Bates, which plans to unveil the two remaining spots in May, handles creative and media for the estimated $8-10 million account.

“The spots really reflect the skill required in skateboarding, the camaraderie these kids feel when they skate together, the danger [of the sports] and the ethnic diversity of the kids that shop in our stores,” said Carol Apkarian, director of marketing for PacSun, based in Anaheim, Calif.

Being seen as authentic in the teen market is essential, Apkarian added, to PacSun’s efforts to brand itself as the definitive source for sportswear and accessories.

Mike Robertson, executive creative director at Bates, said he expects the commercials to help support the branding effort.

“Kids want to be talked to, they don’t want to be talked at. We wanted to let the kids’ own story come through,” he said. “It was very brave of the client to buy into a campaign that had no storyboards or scripts.”

One spot, titled “Crashes,” has a group of teenage boys practicing stunts on their skateboards as girls look on. The camera pans as the teens take turns crashing and talking about the thrills of skateboarding.

While boys account for the majority of PacSun’s sales, two of the commercials target teenage girls.

“Clothing. Accessories. Foot wear” is the tagline for all the spots.

PacSun is a specialty retailer operating about 600 stores, mainly in malls, in 48 states.