You know The Endless Summer. The one with that pop art neon poster. But do you know filmmaker Bruce Brown—the man behind the riptide?

Released in 1963, The Endless Summer cut through "dumb surf-dude" stereotypes, making surfing appear both athletic and artistic. Bruce obviously had a creative eye but he was also a stellar marketer—testing his films with live audience viewings, editing and finessing the story as he learned along the way. 

As presentation thinkers, we hear a lot about the importance of great “storytelling” in our marketing and messaging. But how do you know when a story resonates with its intended audience?

As we can learn from Bruce Brown’s making of The Endless Summer, testing and refining is the surefire way to help ensure your story is putting out those ~good vibrations~

Surf's up, pitches! Enjoy.

A quest for the perfect wave. And a story that sticks. 

The seventh surf-film in Bruce Brown's career, The Endless Summer was built on one idea:

"If you travel around the world at just the right speed, you'd be in the middle of summer 365 days of the year."
(Quoted here by Dusters California)

Sounds pretty killer in theory, right? But what was it about this surf flick that took it from the fringes into widespread popularity?

Knowing the buzz it could create, Bruce + co. traveled the country showing live audiences his "rough cut" before they could get a studio release. And when we say rough, we mean, like, it didn’t have any audio. Bruce would get up on stage as the silent film screened, and he’d narrate the film along the way like a damn tour guide. 

He'd literally cut and edit on the way to showings, dependent on each audience reaction. It's like when comedians are testing for a new laugh or presentation design companies are testing their new WindSprint services (ahem, see below).

Doesn’t exactly sound scalable, does it? And therein lies the magic.

As we know, sometimes the best things in life and work don’t "scale." Testing our talk track in front of live audiences takes quite a bit of coordination, but it can unlock some of the most valuable feedback we can receive. Showing our ideas before we’re ready to call them “final” is what helped Bruce Brown avoid an endless bummer.

In telling this journey to find the perfect wave, Bruce tested repeatedly until he found his perfect narrative. 

Real testing = real resonation.
"The audience does not need to tune themselves to you—you need to tune your message to them. Skilled presenting requires you to understand their hearts and minds and create a message to resonate with what's already there.
Your audience will be significantly moved if you send a message that is tuned to their needs and desires."

—Presentation queen Nancy Duarte

Oh, you mean that pop art movie poster.

You can't make a cult classic without something going viral.  

A still image taken from one of Brown's B-roll videos, this pop art poster came to symbolize a lot more than average dorm room decor. 

John Van Hamersveld is the man behind the phenomenon. And his graphic artistry is still rockin. 

Testing, testing...GhostRanch Presentation WindSprints

Just ask Bruce—getting feedback on your messaging with real customers is incredibly valuable.  Continually making "better" instead of waiting for "perfect" allows for growth—and can take a story from good to LEGENDARY.

Over the last two quarters, GhostRanch has worked with a handful of Product Marketers, CEOs, CMOs and founders to develop a new offering called Presentation WindSprints. The all-day sprint intensives are, well, a bit exhausting! But a whole lot remarkable. Highly collaborative and extremely productive, they will leave you with key messaging slides that are ready to be tested.

Only a few sprint openings remain for Q3, but if could see yourself benefiting from some rapid presentation iteration in Q4, reach out to Mikey directly ( and we'll get you more info on the offering!

No matter the medium, testing your messaging is the catalyst for creating good vibrations.

I’m not necessarily saying your sales deck will be the next big college dorm room poster...But with GhostRanch involved, I’m not saying it won't either.

the writer Ranchero from GhostRanch
Copyright © 2019 GhostRanch Communications, All rights reserved.

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