Spreading The Search

Before the Inter-web-a-net, the only way to experience The Search was visiting your local newsagent and getting a copy of the latest surf mag, flipping it over to mind-surf waves you’d only dream of in the Search ads. But how did it come about?

In 1991, Rip Curl held its International Management Meeting on a boat trip to Sumbawa. With the three main regions at the time: Australia, USA and Europe all represented. On board were Brian and Claw, European Founder Francois Payot, Grant Forbes, Rohan “Bagman” Robinson from Torquay, Marty Gilchrist from California and Robert Wilson from Bali. It is safe to say that many brain cells were killed, but also that some great thinking around The Search happened and that the iconic ad campaign was born.

As a result of that trip and following meetings in Torquay with Derek Hynd – then running team for Rip Curl – The first “teaser ads” depicting a new cryptic “Search logo” (The Cosmic Kiss) ran in February and March Tracks in 1992. Brian and Claw had learned the value of a teaser years before when they had shown surf films up and down the coast.

The “perfect lineup” Search ads (seen here) followed with the idyllic settings depicted in the photos, connecting with surfers worldwide immediately. Groms, young guys and girls and older surfers alike all knew what the feeling was and what it meant to dream from those images.

The campaign went hard as the main advertising vehicle for the brand for the next few years and it has been a constant source of inspiration and brand communication since then. We’d like to thank all the photographers who snapped the moment along the way and made these ads great. You can see credits on some of the ads shown here.

Around the same time, Sonny Miller’s first Rip Curl film The Search – an Indian Ocean Sojourn was released and through surf shops worldwide and along with several more of his films became a series that still enjoy a cult following today.

You’ll find The Search represented in everything Rip Curl does.