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If You Don’t Surf, Don’t Start: Lost Does it Again

I first caught a whiff of Lost’s latest(and greatest?) ad campaign when EXPN’s Jon Coen posted a smooth read on it not many moons ago. Not long after that first view of the ad, I walked into my Southern California hotel room to find full page of the “If you Don’t surf, Don’t start” campaign neatly ripped out of the latest surf mag’s and gracing my top sheet with all of it’s brilliance, courtesy of my Editor-in-Chief. Lord knows we could use a lot less advertisements in our favorite surf mags, but Lost has once again made their ad’s fresh and not so disturbing to stumble upon while skimming from spread to spread.

if you dont surf dont start

It turns out this is a campaign first run by Gotcha about 20 years ago. Gotcha, along with Op, was one of my all-time favorites back in the day so I was kind of surprised I didn’t remember this. Anyway, it didn’t really seem like Lost was losing any sleep at the fact that they were resurrecting Gotcha’s campaign. “Even knowing it was someone’s campaign 20 years ago, we’re still running with it,” Lost Enterprises explained, “I think Gotcha’s out of biz anyway, so they can’t sue us.”

The basic premise of the ad is to portray the typical modern anti-surfer with the “If You Don’t Surf, Don’t Start” headline sitting below. Out of all the characters used by Lost, and I do mean characters, the cliche ultimate fighter looking fella was by far the topper (the Abercrombie & Fitch dude isn’t far behind). It’s the perfect answer to the infiltration of certain tough-guy brands advertising in our favorite surf magazines. Good on Lost for reminding all of our friends that “If You Don’t Surf, Don’t Start.” As well as for following that up with “If You Surf, Never Stop.”


Posted by Shaun on Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 in Surfing.

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23 Responses to “If You Don’t Surf, Don’t Start: Lost Does it Again”

  • Jeff Bollock Says:

    My favorite is the Hollister looking mofo. More because people with that style are almost trying to pose as surfers. puka shells rule ;)

  • Chris Says:

    I want that Bumper Sticker

  • mike Says:

    Lost is Gotcha, kinda. There were 2 guys that started Gotcha – Michael Thompson & another less know guy called Joel somebody. After Gotcha went down in the early 90’s, Joel somebody started Lost.

  • greg Says:

    i surfed once. want to surf more. either way, i don’t dress like the left side of the page. wish i could surf like the right side… never gonna happen tho.

  • Shaun Says:

    @ Greg- Let me be the first to invite you back into the water to surf again! You never know, you may be surfing like the guys on the right in no time. Besides, how “good” you surf doesn’t matter anyways. Just be sure to have fun….Check this post out- http://5ones.com/how-good-are-you-at-surfing-389/

    Best wishes and thanks for your feedback my friend-


  • Spico Says:

    I hate Lost and think they are the biggest frauds and hypocrites in surfing’s history. I think the ad campaign is just another example of how Lost is just like Sublime: a 1990’s mentality that consist 90% of other peoples material and ideas- except the public is too stupid to catch on. I do, however, like the “artist” jab obviously aimed directly at Alex Knost (I guess Biolas finally found a bigger unoriginal phony than himself!).

  • mike Says:

    Mike – you are wrong. Get your facts straight. Biolos and I started it and still own the majority. Joel did invest 1999. Spicco – everyone has their own opinion. I have been Matt’s business partner for 16 years and he definitely is not a phony nor overly hypocritical. In the spirit of not being phony – my name is Mike Reola and you can reach me at mike@lostclothing.com Who are you guys Spicco and Mike? Surely you are not scared to say something to our faces (sort of).

  • mike Says:

    Interesting comment Mike Reola. Didn’t mean to upset ya. Its funny cos I’d just read the Gotcha book like a day b4 I saw this post about the adds. On pg 211 it says.. “He left & started Lost Clothing” – referring to Joel Cooper.
    Boy, some1 didn’t get their facts right.

  • mike r Says:

    i caught that in the book as well. not sure why someone wrote that. the book was one big ego stroke for people that killed a surf company and maybe someone thought Joel needed a little stroke too. it pisses me off actually. maybe if I go and work for KVCA and someone writes a book about Lost – maybe they’ll write that I started KVCA… sorry if I got upset… I just like to set things straight.

  • andrew Says:

    this campaign is a good way to alienate people who may have had an interest in one day surfing. is the ocean really that crowded? please. why does surfing need to be some super-exclusive club? and what happened to the whole laid-back surfer mentality? “if you don’t surf, don’t start?” fuck that. this is bullshit. i used to refrain from making fun of surfers because i had an odd sort of respect for the culture. even though i know most surfers are absolute fuckheads who know nothing and don’t seem to care about anything real. fuck that. fuck surfers. i hope you all fucking drown.

  • Cameron Says:

    Andrew – This is just my own personal interpretation of the campaign…

    “If you don’t surf, don’t pose like you do”

    I could also interpret it as…

    “If you’re a douche-bag like those people in the pictures, don’t surf”

    By no means do I interpret that as…

    “The ocean is too crowded and we’re a super-exclusive club.” But you are welcome to form your own opinion.

    The oceans are crowded, but I’d personally like to welcome you and anyone else interested in surfing to learn. All I would suggest is that respect the culture and the etiquette of surfing.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • mike Says:

    If you don’t start surfing before your mind has hardened into thinking yet suppressing certain thoughts and beliefs, then there is the chance that something as simple as a little ad campaign can make that person spew out his true thoughts. So I say to you – you don’t surf – please don’t start. YOU my friend are the exact reason the campaign resonates so well with surfers.

  • andrew Says:

    sorry about the “i hope you all drown” part and the various “f-bombs.” i got myself a bit worked up.

    i just feel like surfing can be extremely beneficial to the body and mind, and nobody should be denied that, especially based on fashion.

    i don’t surf, obviously, but from an outsider’s perspective it appears to be an almost spiritual practice. i’m sure it’s massively therapeutic to most of you guys. why should you be allowed to keep it to yourselves? this is what offends me about these ads. the whole, “you wouldn’t understand” attitude. as is clear from my first post, it really pissed me off.

  • Shaun Says:

    You just dropped one of the raddest comments I’ve ever read here and I want to thank you for that and for all of your thoughts. You really bring a cool perspective to this issue and I think there is much that can be learned from your point of view.
    You couldn’t be more correct, surfing is extremely beneficial to the body and mind, and especially the soul. Nobody should be denied that. I also feel that there are many times where surfers come across as “exclusive” and such. Hell, I’ve surfed my entire life and there are times still to this day that I paddle out to certain breaks and end up getting vibed out. It happens, and it’s kind of a shame.I wish it didn’t happen as much as it does.
    Overall Andrew, I promise you that if you come into this incredible sport with the mindset and for the purposes you mentioned in your last comment, you will in large part be welcome with open arms. It’s just important, as Cameron and Mike R mentioned earlier, that you come into the sport with a great attitude; that you do it for yourself and not just for the image(although it’s true, the ladies really dig surfers;)).
    I’m based out of San Diego, but spend lots of time in Nicaragua and Hawaii as well. I would be stoked beyond belief to help you with your surfing if we ever happen to be in the same area. Please stay in touch with all of us at 5ones and leave thoughts, questions, and feedback as much as you want. I can learn a lot from your perspective.
    Thanks again, and no worries on the f-bombs my friend.


  • lost Says:

    the only ppl who should start are mini groms.

  • Spico Says:

    You guys are really drinking the Kool-Aid if you think these ad’s have anything to do with encouraging or discouraging anybody from taking up the sport of surfing.

    Lost is a clothing company, they may happen to sell some surfboards, but their real bread comes from clothes (don’t get me started on the energy drink stuff). When Mike posted his e-mail address it wasn’t “mike@lostsurfboards”, it was “mike@lostclothing”.

    Lost is threatened by other clothing companies that are competing for the same dollar, companies like Hollister, RVCA, Tap-Out, The Gap etc. Lost is simply using this ad campaign to tell perspective clothing customer “hey, you are a kook if you buy from our competition, but if you buy your clothes from Lost you will be cool”. That is it! Nothing more. It has nothing to do with who surfs and who doesn’t, or whether Aloha lives or if kooks fill the line-ups- THEY DON’T CARE! They want people to buy Lost clothing and who cares if they surf or not.

    Lost IS the establishment. But somehow they have every one convinced they are just some cool surfboard guys trying to keep the scene real by going against the Man. Take a second look at the ads, they are targeted at specific clothing competitors who have booths at ASR and Expo.

  • Will Says:

    This ad is funny!
    I think that it is a good poke at california subcultures, wheather it be the bros from riverside who act as newport weekend warriors or just an average hipster in costa mesa. The fact of the matter is that surfing has acted as an activity not bias to wardrobe, that super fashion foward stuff is not a representation of the surf culture (though it is a market now).
    In this ad I think lost is trying to reach the demographic of a niche surf culture, maybe even the more orthodox surf culutre, where materialist things arnt a main focus. In that case this ad holds true non of these guys fit a orthodox surfing look. BUT into days liberal ass society anyone and everyone surfs. People are no longer affraid to try different clothes out or where what ever the fuck they want. The middle picture in this add is a direct stab I think at lost and mainly RVCA and the vibe and styling they present. Which I think is super lame for lost to high light because alex knost rips, and it just so happends that he is cultured in other aspects and is a well rounded individual. This ad may be funny but kinda kooky at the same time and seems like lost is trying to make a statement to gain attention not only from their consumer but from their competition as well

  • juice Says:

    if you dont surf, dont start

  • mikey Says:

    i personally dont get this ad because all three of the bro bros on the the left except the artist are the typical Lost costomer. the name “lost” just explains how lame the company is. Lost Enterprises is defenitly right..they are litteraly “lost”. at least they admit it. companies like RVCA are original with their products at least. i mean look at alex knost for example. the guy surfs faaaaaar better that Fat Biolas. so he dresses a little out there. who gives a shit! hes orignal and he appreicates surfing for what it really is. an art form and a culture. hope lost has to endup selling at macys just to stay alive. stay stoked! God bless.

  • Spico Says:

    Alex is completely unoriginal. People who really “get it” know what a poser that guy is. Whether or not he surfs better than Matt is debatable, but I have no doubt Alex is better at touching his foot on dick-high slop at Newport. As for the “art & culture” angle… PLEASE! Have you ever seen his retarded doodles or heard his awful music? He sucks and everything accept doing ballet tricks on a longboard in 2′ mush. He reminds me of Donovan trying to be Gerlach.

  • hoon Says:

    we shouldn’t try to read it into too much. let’s take it for what it is: a funny, dare i say witty ad campaign. golf clap. love the pseudo Gotcha shark, …lost black sheep logo. you should make stickers, etc. of that lil guy. i give biolos a lot of credit. the man certainly speaks his mind.

  • Spico Says:

    …well, if you like the “Lost Black Sheep Logo” maybe you should give credit to the guys Biolas stole it from! Minor Treat put released “Out of Step” in 1983 and that’s where Biolas ripped off the black sheep. I am sure he got into Minor Threat after it was “safe” for trendy surfers like him to do so. I have the record on vinyl, and I assure you not the “in” thing for surfers at the time. but I am sure Matt was dancing around in his room listening to Duran Duran and other wussy New Wave back then.

    Here is a link to the original art work:


    Am I the only surfer in the world that doesn’t run around with Biolas’ or Knost’s sausages in my mouth all day?!?

  • hoon Says:

    is Minor Threat like Fall Out Boy? i kid, i kid.

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