Hughes Targets Skiers, Hikers With Surreal Art

The Hughes Group enlisted an illustrator with a unique style in an effort to break out of the pack in its second cam paign for PolarMax clothing for winter outdoor-sports enthusiasts.

In an effort to gain notice with a smaller budget, the St. Louis shop hired Joel Nakamura, a Santa Fe, N.M., artist for the print ads. Working under agency guidelines, Nakamura created colorful and somewhat surreal paintings, which are surrounded by Hughes copy.

An ad aimed at skiers reads: “Survival: At 3,500 feet and 5 below 0, sweat can be deadly. PolarMax pulls sweat away from your body. Too bad it can’t stop a whiteout”

Another execution, slated for Backpacker magazine, is headlined, “Primal: Nature beckons with fingery tree limbs.”

Employing impressionistic takes of people engaged in outdoor pursuits, the two ads are tagged, “Pol ar Max. The base with in stinct.”

“The premise is taking different instincts and using copy to relate emotionally to the audience,” said agency president James Schnurbush. “We felt we of fered unique imagery for the audience.”

It’s a departure from the shop’s first campaign after winning the Candor, N.C.-based Longworth Industries ad assignment for PolarMax last year, which “looked like the category, using snowboarding and skiing,” said Schnurbush.

According to Nakamura’s Web site, his “tin paintings explore ideas inspired by Mexican folklore, retablo paintings and road signage. These tin works follow the tradition of painting images on sheets of tin in central Mexico.”

PolarMax is a sweat-wicking material used in what serious cold-weather outdoors people call a “technical base layer.” The brand competes with much bigger players, such as Patagonia, Schnurbusch said.

Spending on the campaign was not disclosed. The ads are set to run in the December, January and February issues of Skiing and Freeze magazines.