Advertising Genius: Sex, AIDS, Unicorns and Faye Dunaway’s Septum

We got invited to “Diesel’s Worldwide Dirty 30 Party”. In fact, everyone did. But the party can never live up to the SWF-embracing ad.

This is not your average invite. It reminded us of “The White Before Xmas Party” we neglected to go to at the start of the millenium. [If you've been in one club-raid, you've been through enough.] Razor blade designs on invites make our eyes bleed, and give us nightmares about jail-time and Faye Dunaway’s septum.

Where have Diesel been hiding? What happened to them? They were probably recovering from over-exposure. Like a baby in a hot car, they probably spent a decade on a respirator cursing mothers and Pokie machines with a furious, laboured wheeze.

When Diesel ate the first born of Benetton at the fin-de-siecle, it pulled out some of the best print advertising we’d seen in years. Some of us are not quite old enough to be able to say, without shame, that we are old enough to remember it well.

Freedom is now sponsored by Diesel

Freedom is now sponsored by Diesel

That text bottom right says:

Freedom is now sponsored by Diesel
Freedom is a feeling you celebrate with the world. Let’s make cakes not weapons. Let’s visit the plastic surgeon and replace our arms with wings. This may cost a lot of money.

The Anti-advertising advertising shift was brilliant. Filled with irony, the ads took the piss out of advertising, and still worked as ads. They said to readers, “You’re too smart for this. Trust us (buy us).”

The creative kids at Kesselskramer did a great job. If you check out their website you’ll understand their aesthetic. Think it’s a broken link? Refresh their page. They ate the soul of hipsterism. Williamsburg kids owe them a thousand breakfast burritos.

For the Record. Anyone even older remember the award-winning Benetton brilliance before Diesel and Kesselskramer?

Bennetton "Pieta" 1990

Benetton "Pieta" Advertisement

The ad, featuring dying AIDS-activist David Kirby, stirred up huge controversy in the 90s. Was advertising the right way to get issues out into the public arena? Or was this just cynical market exploitation?

Morality can take a back-seat for political impact as far as we’re concerned. In 2003 the photo of Kirby was included in the Life Magazine collection “100 Photos That Changed the World”.

Here’s the original (black and white didn’t have the shock value Benetton needed):

AIDS Activist David Kirby

Need a quick refresher on the controversy? Everyone does. All the time. Benetton knew how to push the ticket. And that business acumen generated enough money to bring us Colors, their quarterly magazine. It’s sold in over 40 countries. It’s always on a theme. It’s always filled with amazing images. And it’s always chocful of logic jumps, semantic slippage, and non sequitirs. 

If you’re interested in the area, check out Frank W Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse (mLc) for further links.

2 Comments

Filed under The Politics of Advertising

2 responses to “Advertising Genius: Sex, AIDS, Unicorns and Faye Dunaway’s Septum

  1. frockhard

    Isn’t this what everyone wants these days? A snappy ad that will surely be embedded via youtube in all sorts of places normally reserved for the informative or entertaining, with it’s (cheap) viral spread to hopefully be emulated by that of their new (expensive) t-shirt line? Maybe not a new genre, but certainly one fueled by the internet – some kind of stealth bombing infomercial.

    I can remember, however, that the Benetton ads convincingly portrayed the (illusion? reality?) of a social conscience, rather than just the smug, nihilistic ‘the world is burning, let’s masturbate’ sentiments of Diesel…
    Still, I can’t help but hope it works for them – it’s a whole lot more entertaining than that gorilla drumming about chocolate.

  2. diesel suck ass. they are they worst thing to come out of italy, and are slowly buying the decent thought provoking fashion world up.

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