“And if you do, never stop” These were the searing copy lines from an iconic advertising campaign in the 1980s by the highly-influential Gotcha! surf brand.
The company was started by Michael Tomson, a former South African pro surfer whose celebrity in the surfing world was due almost as much by his legendary party lifestyle and appetite for drugs — namely cocaine — as his animalistic surf prowess and tenacity in heavy waves. Beyond it’s actual products, which were mostly apparel, Gotcha’s magic was in it’s creative vision and metabolism.
The byproduct of this was a new level-setting aesthetic in design, fashion, film, and perhaps most memorably advertising. Shawn Stussy — Yes, THAT Shawn Stussy — designed Gotcha’s logo. The brand had a huge influence on surf culture at the time, as well as on the mainstream youth culture at large. For some perspective, I wore Gotcha board shorts before I could properly, legitimately claim to be able to ride a surf board.
We mentioned this here because it was revealed this week that Tomson is gravely ill with terminal and untreatable, late-stage throat cancer. We send heartfelt warm vibes and love to Michael and his friends and family in light of this tragic news.