The sport of skateboarding has matured and evolved greatly over the years, but the legends and stories of its early days are still as vital as ever. While few of today’s skateboarders will personally remember the glory days of the Powell-Peralta “Bones Brigade” team, those seminal videos and professionals remain extremely influential. The marketing that Powell-Peralta used to establish its team of talented personalities as a force to be reckoned with lives on in many a modern campaign, as well.
A Different, Unrulier Take on Skateboarding for the 1980s
The first skateboarders were surfers looking for ways to enjoy a similar feeling when the waves were not ready to oblige them. While skateboarding started out as a fairly scruffy sport in the 1970s, it quickly took on a more polished veneer.
As skateboarding parks went up throughout southern California toward the middle of the decade, buttoned-up corporate sponsors flooded them with prize money and other support. In a few short years, what had begun as a relatively gritty, informal undertaking turned into something else entirely.
George Powell and Stacy Peralta saw a way of better connecting with the true spirit of the sport and its most devoted fans, in the process. In an approach reminiscent of today’s “influencer marketing,” they sought to build corporate credibility on the back of a determined emphasis on the personalities of skateboarding’s most authentic and instinctive professional practitioners.
The Bones Brigade Breaks Through
In addition to assembling a team full of now-legendary names like Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Lance Mountain, and Steve Caballero, Powell-Peralta made sure that the company’s marketing suited the group’s collective personality. Posters like the iconic one featuring boxer Greg Peralta have since become part of skateboarding history, capturing in singular images the spirit of the time for the ages.
While it was partner Stacy Peralta who most often took to the spotlight in terms of spreading the gospel of the Bones Brigade far and wide, the role played by co-founder George Powell should never be neglected. Already an accomplished businessman by the time he joined forces with former professional surfer skateboarder Peralta, Powell brought a perceptive, hard-nosed sense of judgment to the team that carried it through some difficult early times.