Facebook made an interesting commitment to skateboarding this month. The social media juggernaut hired ad agency Droga5 to create a series of short films which will air during the Olympics, and each one covers a facet of skating in the modern age. For once, a mainstream ad campaign about skating actually makes sense: Clips have been shared on Facebook since the dawn of time (pretty much), with millions of skaters who use the app staying connected no matter the bandwidth. By capitalizing on its role in skaters’ lives—from the most tech-forward cities to the least-developed nations—Facebook is taking the focus away from “likes” and steering the conversation back to the importance of community. If this is what happens when a company aggressively tracks its users’ data, then we’re all for it! (Be sure to follow us on Facebook, btw.)
The most hyped video in the campaign is the FKA Twigs-directed ‘The Longboard Family’, which might not appeal to the most core of core skaters but it is a striking look at a fascinating subculture of freestyle dance-skating (peace to the OG Daniel Gesmer). The simply titled ‘No Comply’ is a clever edit that respectfully praises a trick that most likely won’t be appearing in any Olympic runs. Tyshawn Jones goes full VR mode with his Oculus headset in the NYC-centric edit ‘Once Upon a Time Everywhere’ (he has a sick loft) featuring an artistic slo-mo photo roof gap tease. And ‘Skate Nation Ghana’ tells the story of Joshua and Sandy, and how they used Facebook’s platforms to build an emerging skateboarding culture in Ghana.
There is a long history of embarrassing mainstream attempts at commodifying skateboarding, but—considering the Summer Games’ reach—Facebook’s ad campaign is a step in the right direction. (Just don’t be tracking my private conversations, aiiight Facebook?!) Watch the four ads below, and tune in to the Tokyo Olympics on NBC/Peacock this weekend.