SDA Creative

where ideas
come to life

It is said that many of the world’s greatest ideas started with a simple sketch on a napkin…

Concepting unique and creative ideas for a career as long as I have, I know that to be true. The key to creativity, at least for me, is noticing the amazing – either in print or on the screen. Yep, sometime’s it’s a little embarrassing ripping pages out of a magazine in the doctor’s office and stuffing them into your pocket, but inspiration is where you find it.  I call these sparks, and they have spawned and defined countless branding campaigns here at SDA, and Surfer Magazine before that, for close to 40 years.

Mikasa Sports, SDA’s longtime client and maker of the finest volleyballs made, including the official Olympic volleyballs, sponsor Sara Hughes. Sara is arguably the brightest new star in the world of beach volleyball. I have had the honor of featuring Sara in Mikasa’s branding, and as much as I like to keep it fun, I take it pretty seriously. Being able to marry the best volleyball with the best beach athlete is an opportunity you just don’t take lightly. In a word, it is marketing “Gold”. So with the blessings of Mikasa Sports and Sara’s agent, it was off to the studio with some of the best folks in the business.

With the Tokyo Olympics just around the corner, our team was tasked with featuring Sara in a new ad that would just hint of her intentions of going to Tokyo and her “endeavor” of winning gold.  There are a million restrictions regarding what you can say in an ad about the Olympics, so it needs to be subtle and understated. What to do…. What to do….

SPARK! So I’m at the dentist office thumbing thru a tattered People Magazine, and I see it. The spark. There it is, a shot of a women bodybuilder wearing a hoody that just reeks of intensity. The same intensity I know Sara possesses. I rip out the page and into my pocket it goes. The women sitting opposite me is not amused.

Sara is a remarkable person and athlete with a bright and positive personality, but at the same time she’s an intense athlete. When she steps on the court, you can just feel the competitive energy kick in. I wanted to capture that in this new ad, without using the typical action shot. Sara is the girl next door, who can spike the ball hard enough to put you in the hospital. She would also be the first one to send you flowers.

A good agent keeps a close eye on everything, including make up. Sara has a good agent.


Working with the best, both in front and behind the camera, pretty much assures you’ll get results. We took north of 500 shots, and really only needed one.


After taking some fun photos of Sara, it was time to hone in on the money shot. The intensity face shot that would become the final creative piece. Sara does not have to fake a game face, she owns one big time.

Seeing the final printed Ad in the magazine is always a rush for me. It was a long road from concept to print, but everyone is happy and that makes it all worth while. The “Endeavor” headline fits Sara perfectly, as that word describes exactly what she needs to do to realize her 2020 Olympic goals. You might have noticed that the “O” in the Ad headline is gold… whatever do we mean by that?  Go Sara.





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