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Banned in Menlyn

by Andy Davis / 16.05.2011

Every election, local South African skateboard brand KFD reacts to the frenzy of political poster advertising by punking the politicians and producing their own. This year, they produced a series of huge window displays, riffing on the ANC, calling for “Better Skate Parks” their efforts recently got them banned at Menlyn Shopping Centre. We spoke to KFD, Verb and Revolution Skate’s head honcho, Clayton Peterson.

Mahala: What is the KFD campaign all about?

Clayton: KFD is a good times, “take the piss” humour type brand. Combine that with the typical skateboarding anti-establishment, question authority mindset and it’s hard for us not to say something. During the last elections we played on the ANC strapline “Together we can do more” and adapt it to “Together we can skate more”. Then we punked the ANC logo to make it more skate and printed it up A1 and put it in the window at our Cresta shop and on Facebook. It attracted a lot of attention – some good, some bad, but there’s no such thing as bad press. So this year we did more of the same and adapted their new slogan: “Together we can build better communities” into “Together we can build better skate spots” and inserted a picture from a skate spot that we recently funded and was built by skateboarders. I guess there were existing ingredients in the winter range that just complimented the whole campaign. Our “B.E.E.R Accredited” shirt and board and Good Times Beer range just happened to arrive at the same time and that all worked together to build more of a story.

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How’s the response been?

Pretty mixed. Some people who don’t get the lifestyle or humour just see it as being pro-ANC. Others see it in our context and normally get a good laugh.

What happened in Menlyn and why?

We put up the display on Monday and by Wednesday we were told by centre management that they had customer complaints and that we had to remove it. We are busy adapting it now to get the most out of the controversy. These campaigns tend to piss off a few people in the more conservative areas who just take things at face value. Aside from the obvious piss take, we feel it’s important for our market to vote, but we try do it in a manner that they can relate to.

Apparently you’ve been getting some support from the ANC?

I am not quite sure. An active ANC party member spent a long time looking at the display in Festival Mall in Kempton Park, and then came in to talk to the staff about it. He ended up buying a whole bunch of product, he also left us with his card.

KFD Election Poster

Does politics help sell skate gear and clothes?

Yes and no. I feel most of the younger end of our market are basically politically ignorant and unconcerned and this is something we would like to change. I think bringing voting into their environment, in a way that they relate to, makes it more conversational.

Is skating political?

Nah. Not in the sense of government. If there’s an anti-government sentiment it’s because of the lack of facilities and the general attitude towards skateboarding in communities and society. Both apartheid and post apartheid governments have never really done anything for us, so we have always had to make it happen for ourselves which has bred a very DIY ethos in skateboarding. I think it’s this ethos that keeps skateboarders cooped up in their own world and they don’t see how the vote can benefit them.

Justus Kotze

Some people might say you’re trying to pull a Nandos. Is this an attempt to be humorous or political?

It is an attempt to be both. I think politics in SA is a joke, and not the funny kind. Our attempt is just a more intentional joke with a lot of hidden messages, it just depends how deeply you want to look into it.

What happens for you guys after the elections?

You mean if we don’t win?! We’ll build the skate park ourselves. Life contuinues as normal. We’ll have a good time taking the piss out of something else and try to get a good skate in before getting chased away or arrested.

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DEATH ALLEY from h. nockel on Vimeo.

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