Much has been written about Diesel’s recent ‘Be Stupid’ outdoor campaign. It seemingly adorns the walls of nearly every subway station in Manhattan, and love it or loathe it, I can’t imagine that there are many people in the city unaware of the now infamous oversized luminous copy and recognizable photographic style.
I have enjoyed many a conversation- or more accurately, argument- about both the creative and strategic merit of the work. Although I’m very tempted to give this issue a wide berth, partly because I could go on forever about it, partly because the work has been around for some time now and partly because this post is really to talk about something else, I might indulge myself and say just a few words.
While Diesel were once a true purveyor of cutting edge urban fashion, and as my friend Dan goes to great lengths to explain, were at the turn of the century, one of the few brands in the US selling what became known as ‘premium’ denim, they have undeniably lost their way and long-since lost their cache and any respect of stylistas they might have once commanded. As they expanded aggressively, and sales shifted from early adopters to the Gap-wearing masses, Diesel lost their way, their edge, and most importantly, their personality. No one knew who they were or what they stood for.
To me, this campaign is a clear attempt to once again re-create a personality for Diesel and to represent a particular lifestyle- In this case, it’s one of reckless abandon and impulsiveness; It advocates taking risks, not taking life too seriously, being young, carefree and living completely in the moment.
I’m not saying this is the right voice for the brand. I don’t know enough about their current base and target to make a judgment about that. But I do know that creating a strong and clear personality will mean that they are better positioned in the marketplace and don’t blur into the plethora of other personalityless fashion brands who stand for nothing, represent no one and say nada about who you are.
Okay, so I knew I might rant a bit once I started…I’ll stop.
The real purpose of this post was just to share this brilliant mash up of one of the Be Stupid posters on West 4th Subway Station which, rightly points out that the line Be Stupid is indeed apt for Diesel, as you would probably have to be out of your mind to spend $330 on a pair of jeans. The paste up is of significant enough quality and resolution that I genuinely wonder if all the passers by will even realize it’s not part of the campaign…