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Culture, Sport

Give ’em enough Dope

by Dylan Muhlenberg / 25.05.2009

I was walking down the Sea Point promenade with my girl and the golden retriever that we were dog sitting when I noticed an angry man staring daggers at me from afar. He walked towards me and then stopped directly in front of me, all the time staring at my shirt. 
I was bemused, cocking my head to the side with a furrowed brow.
He said, ‘Do you know who that is on your shirt?’
I said, ‘Er, yah, it’s, uh, L. Ron Hubarb…’ (I only knew this because his name was written at the bottom of the T-shirt in a font much, much smaller than the main copy: ‘We want you, and your money.’)
Then the guy got really angry and asked, ‘AND DO YOU THINK THAT’S FINE?’

I actually thought that he was joking, and laughed at him, which is when he started mouthing off about the constitution and a bunch of other shit that I had no interest in listening to, so I told him to fuck off and walked around him as he carried on spewing vitriol. 
I’d never actually thought further than the fact that it was a good-looking T-shirt, but after realising the weight that it carried, well, it made me like Insight, the maker of the t-shirt I was wearing, even more. 
Beginning as a surfboard company, Insight was founded in 1989 by ex-professional surfer Andrew Down and then business partner Greg Webber. Having found success with the surfboards, Down developed an Insight clothing line along with local artist, and later business partner George Gorrow. Fast-forward to today, Insight has pioneered a hybrid form of surf fashion that might inspire the odd comment and interaction while you walk a borrowed dog on the promenade.

Which brings us to Insight’s latest ad campaign, Dopamine II. Now at Mahala, we’re not quick to gush about the creative production of corporate clothing manufacturers and their advertising agencies, but this campaign is pretty slick. I won’t lie to you, I’m a bit of a fanboy. What I like about Insight is that they’re not like the other corporate surf companies out there. They don’t have billboard type logos on their clothing, instead it’s all fashion forward, original and frikka frikka fresh. Because not all surfers want to dress like surfers.


So, continuing their exploration of idealism in a world that only seems to allow the dreamers to believe and the bankers to bleed, Insight has once again left the mundane behind by building contradictory worlds above and below the surface. This cross pollination is pop culture meets french fries, 360 flips, filing cabinets and buoyant beauties.
Inspired by the Beat movement and the Beatles, Surf Creative Director Steve Gorrow took on the massive feat of building scenes above and beneath the sea to give birth to this latest commercial surf spectacle. I recently caught up with him at home in Australia. 


What exactly is Dopamine?

Dopamine is the love drug – a chemical in the brain that is released when you are doing something you love. Like sex drugs and rock n roll. For me its surfing and art.

Does this bad economy have anything to do with the Dopamine sequel, as opposed to a new fully-fledged campaign?

Dopamine made some serious noise when we released it – so I felt it deserved another hit. In regards to the economy it has really fucked all marketing departments everywhere… It’s always the first thing that gets hit… so we’re not immune either. 

What inspired the campaign and what was referenced when making this?
The original idea came while watching the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. I was inspired by the idea of having a underwater world below the surfing world and the underwater world could be any art installation you could imagine but within our budget of course. The overall theme is simple art and action together.


How much does a campaign like this cost?
Budget? What budget? 
How long did it take to complete?
It all starts with the rough sketches, which I spend about a week or two on, then I have about two weeks to get it all made, and then we shoot for a week, and then I have to put it all together. The ads, movie and web normally takes around 4 – 6 weeks before we can launch it all. So all up, about 3 months is good. 

Where did you shoot?

I choose the island of Bali because it’s paradise and it’s a candy store for surfers and locations. It has absolutely everything.

Tell us about the logistics involved, how do you actually make something like this?

It’s a lot of fun making and sourcing all these art installations and doing it in Bali is a dream come true. The place just gets me inspired. Half the time I feel like I’m walking around in a dream and the other half I am surfing. So any obstacles that come are all part of the fun and art. 
What kind of hurdles did you meet and how did you overcome them? On a shoot like this when I have to handle everything from production, accommodation, banking, catering and directing the whole thing becomes one giant hurdle. So for me I know when I get off the plane in paradise that I have to stay focused and keep my intention on doing the best job possible. I find if I do this everything seems to fall in place and I also find that you have to not take it too seriously, otherwise you don’t enjoy the bums cause the bums are guaranteed. The process of doing this sort of job I think is more important than the original idea. I have watched the ideas change each time we have done these campaigns so you have to be flexible and let it happen and with our budget and our time frames we have no choice but to go with the flow, and I think in the end everyone has a better time and that shows in the movie and the behind the scenes photos. You just gotta roll with it. 


Why the choice to shoot in black and white?

I wanted this campaign to be more than just adds. I wanted it to be something you can hang in a gallery or in your home or store. Something that was classic, and I think as a designer and art director you always want to create something that is classic or timeless and for me black and white always has that appeal.

Anything to add before I go?

I love doing big ideas that require all your attention and I love not knowing if it will work or not. It puts you on the edge, and when I am on the edge I do my best work and doing it another country just make the whole thing way more exciting and enjoyable because all your senses are awake.

To see the making of the campaign click here

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