When Oakley introduced its Max Fearlight character by way of a now-iconic commercial in 1992, it was more than just an enigmatic marketing ploy to sell its products.
Instead, the short sixty-second video set the foundations that would guide Oakley’s context, tone, and vision for the next three decades.
The Max Fearlight concept drew inspiration from the sci-fi movies of the early 1980s and was just one example of Oakley’s meticulous art direction and production design. Two traits few other brands were utilizing at the time.
Everything Oakley did was linked to Max’s dystopian world, be that product design, campaigns, or marketing. It was, in short, Oakley’s heyday.
Max Fearlight painted a picture of the Oakley universe that was both self-referential and inspirational in equal measure and, in turn, catapulted the brand into a golden era that saw its products worn by the likes of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, and, most famously, Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden in Fight Club.
But now, in order for Oakley to revive the halcyon days in 2023, it is revisiting its past. Not to live in it (that would be silly), but to take learnings and evolve Max Fearlight for Oakley’s next golden era, albeit one that's very much already underway.
What this looks like isn't entirely clear, though. A new character perhaps? A fresh film? Could be. I suppose the only thing we can be certain of, as is the case with anything Oakley does, is that the cultural relevance and edge the brand had during the early nineties will return with vengeance for 2023 in a revitalized and contemporary form.