What’s Quiksilver smoking with this ‘Stay High!’ campaign?

For a minute, let’s just forget that Quiksilver is fresh off bankruptcy. And let us also forget that the company has lost Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds and Craig Anderson all in the last 11 or so months. Obviously they are hurting and need a new image.

But is that correct image one that connotes drug use?

Surely, surfing and drugs have had a long, strange relationship (and no one is saying there hasn’t been some experimentation); we’re thrill seekers, and when on land sometimes we have trouble dealing with the lack of adrenaline.

But it’s one thing to recognize this and be transparent about the fact that people (and not only surfers) do, in fact, do drugs — and a totally separate thing to title a marketing campaign aimed at the youth simply as “Stay High!”

"Stay High!" and utilize the American bankruptcy system!
“Stay High!” and utilize the American bankruptcy system! Image: Courtesy of Quiksilver
There have been plenty of heartbreaking stories of drug use gone wrong within the surf world, and it’s something we truly haven’t figured out how to deal with as a whole. In America, the drug-overdose death rate is being compared to the H.I.V. death epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s (and we’re talking about heavy stuff like heroin, pills and meth).

That’s a pretty scary statement.

RELATED: Surfing’s biggest drug busts

Which is why people are pretty upset with Quiksilver about pushing a marketing campaign out like this with all the information we have in 2016. Does it make them seem a little edgy? Ehh, not really. It’s like the guy in college who finally discovers a beer bong, then he only ever wants to do beer bongs from there on out.

Patagonia's "We have the best weed in town" campaign.
Patagonia’s “We have the best weed in town” campaign. Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia
Campaigns like this (and Patagonia’s “We have the best weed in town” one) are just pointless, really. Sure, they’ll make you chuckle for a split-second if you’re of sound mind and not someone who is wrapped up in the middle of a horrible battle with addiction yourself or dealing with that in someone close to you.

But do they make me want to go buy a pair of Quik’s new shorts? Certainly not.

Double-entendre campaigns like this that seem to obnoxiously scream, “Hey, guys! We’re cool! We’ve done the weed before!” are just holding us back as a surf culture. They’re insensitive to the struggles of former surf stars (e.g., Bunker Spreckels, David Eggers, Andy Irons, et. al.), tell surf-enamored kids it’s OK to do drugs and “Stay High!” and they further the worldwide stereotype that we’re all just Spicolis falling out of clouds of smoke who just want to “Stay High!” all the time.

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