World Surf League Tries Comedy in Ads Starring the Sport’s Offbeat Characters

Less drama, more humor

The World Surf League catches a whole new wave with "Beach Breaks," a series of comedy shorts from agency Zambezi and director Peter Miller.

Unlike past WSL efforts that focused on the inherent drama and chaos of surfing, the new work casts the league's athletes, announcers and executives in skits designed to appeal to both long-time fans and those just discovering the sport.

"The WSL felt like they were succeeding in showing the best competitive surfing in the world, but were missing out on some of the offbeat characters and unique fun that is at surfing's core," Zambezi senior art director Chris Rutkowski tells AdFreak.

In seven 30-second clips running on WSL broadcasts and the league's social platforms, the league "stayed true to the laid-back image of surfers with honest, sometimes self-deprecating humor to make the surfing world as inviting as possible," Rutkowski says.

First up, reigning WSL world champion Adriano de Souza gets carried away with his success, literally, even into the men's room stall:

Next, the cerulean expanse of sky and ocean inspires an impromptu game of "I Spy" for Nat Young and Kolohe Andino:

Where's a shark when you need one, right? Just kidding. (No we're not.)

The most ambitious installment takes us back to the hirsute '70s for a discussion about making Hawaii part of the U.S.:

Hawaii actually joined the union in 1959, but whatever. These are surfers, not historians! By the way, those are all WSL execs, including vp of communications Dave Prodan, who, Rutkowski says, "ate pie the entire time he was in character. Between takes, during takes, the guy just kept eating pie."

Speaking of healthy appetites, surfer Sebastian Zietz attacks a plate of Twinkies in this ad:

Hopefully he remembered to wait an hour before going back into the water.

"It's a series with the potential to grow over time," says Rutkowski, "introducing more of the athletes and locations that make this sport so unique."

Ah well, if the campaign doesn't work out, those wacky surfers can always go back to the drawing board.


Client: World Surf League 

Agency: Zambezi

Founder, Chief Executive Officer: Chris Raih

Executive Creative Director: Josh DiMarcantonio 

Senior Art Director: Chris Rutkowski

Senior Copywriter: Jack Collier

Junior Art Director: Sean Jackson

Head of Content: Alex Cohn

Producer: Nat Bricker

Managing Director:  Pete Brown

Account Supervisor: Noelle Belling      

Group Strategy Director: Ryan Richards

Contributing Writer: Kim Crossman

Production Company: RadicalMedia

Director: Peter Darley Miller

Director of Photography: Tim Hudson

President: Frank Scherma

Head of Production: Cathy Dunn

Producer: Steve Fredriksz

Editorial: Blink Studios

Editor: Jon Grinberg, Ling Ly

Assistant Editor: Sasha Perry

Audio: Blink Studios

Sound Design/ Mixer: Mark Scearce

Color Correction: Big Block

Colorist: James Boger 

Head of Production: Kay Rough

Producer: Tiffany Dickerson

Music Supervision: Allison Thiel, WSL

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.