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June 12, 2011 6:13 AM   Subscribe

It's either really smart, or really stupid. Perhaps some genius in an advertising agency thought took the phrase "there are no stupid questions" to heart and decided to launch it as the new mantra for Diesel Jeans - Be Stupid.

Revolving around the questionable notion that "smart is square", the campaign trumpets in enormous bold block typeface such nuggets as:

* SMART HAD ONE GOOD IDEA AND THAT IDEA WAS STUPID.
* STUPID IS TRIAL AND ERROR. MOSTLY ERROR.
* IF WE DIDN'T HAVE STUPID THOUGHTS WE'D HAVE NO INTERESTING THOUGHTS AT ALL.
* SMART LISTENS TO THE HEAD, STUPID LISTENS TO THE HEART.
* SMART MAY HAVE THE BRAINS, BUT STUPID HAS THE BALLS.
* STUPID MIGHT FAIL. SMART DOESN'T EVEN TRY.
* SMART CRITIQUES. STUPID CREATES.
* SMART HAS THE PLANS, STUPID HAS THE STORIES.
* SMART SAYS NO. STUPID SAYS YES.
* ONLY THE STUPID CAN BE TRULY BRILLIANT.

Coupled with images of hot people doing moronic things, and placed in the context-less vacuum of tube stations, billboards, etc. the material has been banned in the UK as "indecent and promoting anti-social behaviour".

Of course, somebody somewhere would think this is truly brilliant and give it an award: "How many global brands would have the guts to do this?".
posted by Jon-A-Thon (156 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
They've plagiarized the ethos of American conservatism.
posted by Renoroc at 6:17 AM on June 12, 2011 [33 favorites]


This is the aboslute truth: Among my plans for this afternoon, was going to go to Nordstrom to buy some Diesel jeans, since a number of high status individuals of my acquaintance have started wearing them, and I thought I should jump on the bandwagon. After reading about the "stupid" campaign in this post, I'd have decided that Diesel jeans have jumped the shark, and I don't need to buy them now. Note to ad agency: stupid is stupid.
posted by Faze at 6:19 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"How many global brands would have the guts to do this?"

"Guts" isn't the word you're looking for there.

Bill Hicks, we miss you.
posted by mhoye at 6:20 AM on June 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


Ad agencies definitely have the market on Stupid, there's no question. I don't think anyone needs any more help being stupid in the world.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:21 AM on June 12, 2011


It's not new. Be stupid won Cannes Lions Outdoor Grand Prix last year. God I hate that campaign.
posted by dabitch at 6:22 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And a huge sad +1 for mourning Bill Hicks.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:22 AM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


and now I see that the cannes lions grand prix is linked in the post. *facepalm*
posted by dabitch at 6:23 AM on June 12, 2011


Got you noticing them and talking about it, didn't it? So they achieved their goals. Now who's stupid and who's smart?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:24 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]




STUPID IS TRIAL AND ERROR. MOSTLY ERROR.

Actually, that's a pretty good definition of smart.
posted by rdr at 6:26 AM on June 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


One of my favourite side-bits is the comments section in that Daily Mail article.
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 6:27 AM on June 12, 2011


Advertising agency anti-intellectualism looks even worse than geek anti-intellectualism. Note to self: Diesel jeans are off the list.

On the other hand, if the one with the girl flashing her bare breasts at the cc camera had actually been a major brand advertising against 24x7 surveillance, that would not have been stupid.
posted by immlass at 6:27 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"stupid" is slang for good and has been for years
in fresh, "i got stupid moves"
stupid game, etc
posted by nathancaswell at 6:27 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chuckie: I got the dope moves.
Esteban: You got the what?
Chuckie: I got the stupid juice, I bust the stupid moves.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:28 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Uhhh...what? Hasnt this campaign cone and gone? Last time I remember seeing those be stupid billboards was around 2009.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:28 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


@to sir with millipedes - actually not quite. Some less obviously "stupid" ones are still hanging about in tube stations here in London. Stupid Island, or something to that effect.
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 6:30 AM on June 12, 2011


This is why I wear Oxford bags.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:30 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Renproc: They've plagiarized the ethos of American conservatism.

Say what you will for the tenets of American conservatism, Dude . . .
posted by Zonker at 6:31 AM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Perhaps 15 years ago H&M had a campaign for their "Rocky" range of denim. Their slogan was "Bad Idea Jeans" with commercials showing people doing stupid things [1],[2] (there was at least one more, and none of them were banned in Sweden, no matter what youtube posters might want you to believe).
posted by bjrn at 6:31 AM on June 12, 2011


I'm ambivalent about this. I don't have the kneejerk reaction against its using the word "stupid" that some people here do, I guess; "smart" is a word and idea that has a lot of negative connotations. The idea of a person too intelligent to do anything, always calculating, never feeling, always planning, never daring, is not a new one. On MetaFilter we have beanplating, the idea that sometimes when you have a plate of beans you should eat them instead of thinking about them. (Not that I am against beanplating. Not at all.)

At the start of my sophomore year in college, I resolved to be a little bit more stupid. I don't regret the decision. Impulse and whim without analysis sometimes leads to magical moments. I wish we had more of that in the cultural circles I'm a part of. I love thinking and all, but there's so much more to life than being a head.

That said, a lot of the execution here makes me uncomfortable. The line about smart being the brains and stupid being the balls is irritatingly "man"ish. But some of the lines ("stupid might fail; smart doesn't even try") are nice little motivational bits, couched neatly in a "controversial" campaign. Some of it is really smart adwork. I can see why it's winning awards.

I'm not anti-advertising. I like a lot of advertising more than I like that Bill Hicks routine about advertising, which incidentally and ironically has come to define a "Bill Hicks brand" that sells precisely to the "anti-marketing" demographic that Hicks said he wasn't selling to. This isn't brilliant advertising, but it's clever and technically pretty nice. A little bit morally backwater, but when your jeans are named after a type of gasoline you're not exactly a beacon as-is, right?
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:34 AM on June 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


The "Be Stupid" campaign isn't about anti-intellectualism, its about capitalizing on the hip hop and sports community's use of "stupid" as a modifier to mean good or exceptional.

Playaz Club - Stupid
Titan's running back Chris Johnson has stupid noodle game
posted by nathancaswell at 6:39 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


yeah, bjrn they were made by King ad agency in Stockholm, and often launched great bands new songs too. Lots of play on MTV Europe back in the day. I hated the underwear one (the only one where not just the stupid-jeans wearer might get really hurt by his actions), which was played most often.
posted by dabitch at 6:39 AM on June 12, 2011


circle
posted by nathancaswell at 6:39 AM on June 12, 2011


I'm glad they found a new way to sell $200 jeans.
posted by oxford blue at 6:42 AM on June 12, 2011


In thinking about this, I'd like to see an ad agency pull off a campaign where the buyer is actually RIDICULED about being stupid enough to buy the product.

A campaign where someone's ACTUAL slackjawed sense was thrown back at them to sell something.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:44 AM on June 12, 2011


Lipstick Thespian: Groupon?
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:46 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Got you noticing them and talking about it, didn't it? So they achieved their goals. Now who's stupid and who's smart?

This is something I've thought about for a while. Is an advertising campaign successful when it gets you talking about a product, or is it only successful when you actually buy the product it is trying to sell?

I tend to think the latter, which may put me in the minority.
posted by Lucinda at 6:47 AM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


FWIW, I've never once heard the hipsters in my neck of the woods use the word "stupid" to mean good. I'm sure they'd be aware that it has been used that way by other groups, but it'd be off target if that's the demographic they're targeting the campaign at (trendy urbanites.)
posted by chmmr at 6:49 AM on June 12, 2011


So "stupid" is "good"? It was supposed to be the secret government overlords that would control language and thought and impose and require doublespeak.

Big Brother is us.
posted by sammyo at 6:54 AM on June 12, 2011


Ha!

It's actually all text!

Spelled and punctuated correctly!

They're targeting a campaign for stupidity at literate English speakers!

I'm calling fake, they're wannabes.
posted by fraula at 6:54 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow they really zeroed in on their demographic: appeal to the young while alienating the old--double plus good! They are simply telling the invincible, risk-taking youth that being stupid is fun and adventurous while being smart is dull. Thinking--bad, doing--good. Gut--good, brain--bad. It's that last bit that the conservatives have been spouting but it is also the instinctual response of the impulse-driven teen who is their desirable market.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:57 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


You want stupid? Diesel ran these dumb-ass ads here in Hong Kong a while back.

In English.
posted by bwg at 6:59 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not all fashion is selling dumb.
posted by oxford blue at 7:00 AM on June 12, 2011


Real jeans are the brands sold in Farm & Ranch stores. Lee, Wrangler, Levis, and Carhartt, and maybe some cheaper house brands. That's where the prices are the best, and that's where the people who want their jeans to be jeans, not fashion objects, buy their clothes.

Everything else is a sham and a marketing ploy, overpriced and stupid. Only actually stupid, not this new redefined fake jeans marketing stupid.
posted by hippybear at 7:00 AM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is an advertising campaign successful when it gets you talking about a product, or is it only successful when you actually buy the product it is trying to sell?

Remember that advertising isn't always about selling a product. It's also about establishing a brand that means something to consumers. When we have opinions about brands, it means the brands are stronger and more powerful, even if they're not selling directly to you.

Diesel jeans are probably a meaningless product to you, right? You're not going to buy them. Chances are, you're not going to buy them even if they had a really good marketing campaign. And they're not stupid enough to try and brainwash you into buying them anyway. They know, or they think they know, exactly who might be in the market to get their jeans. Those people matter and nobody else does.*

Advertising campaigns like this aren't using the old-school logic of selling a product directly to you. They're not saying, "Here's why our product is better than another product." Instead they're trying to start conversations about them, because if people are talking about them it means they must be something important. And the more important a brand is, the more willing people are to trust them. The fact that you and people like you are talking about Diesel means that Diesel is a brand apparently worth paying attention to. And then people can decide whether Diesel's brand is one that they want to apply to themselves.

When you're selling in a category where there's very little difference between products (other than quality and price point, and there're loads of people who'll disregard either), a popular tactic is to instead make your product say something about the people who purchase it. If I want to feel like a risk-taker and a fun person, I'll get Diesel jeans! Maybe if Diesel jeans are branded well enough, other people who see me wearing them will know that's what I am, or at least that's what I'm trying to be.

So even if you're not going to buy their jeans as a result of this advertisement, it matters that they have us deriding them on MetaFilter, and that you're deciding what to think about Diesel. It strengthens their brand, which means that suddenly, the people who want to buy these jeans are saying something with their purchase. In the same way that I'll automatically think less of somebody wearing Abercrombie, even though I know I shouldn't. If fashion is a means of communication, then it matters to Diesel that you know what their jeans say. They don't care if you dislike the message, so long as you get it. That's what a campaign like this does for a brand.


* This is why category leaders almost always have blander and less edgy advertising than their competition. McDonald's is less interesting than Burger King; Coca Cola, which is a global brand that theoretically sells to everybody, won't even use words in their ads, because they want to make advertising that transcends language. Pepsi doesn't have that limitation. The more people you're trying to sell to, the less you can say in an ad that will appeal to all of them at once.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:02 AM on June 12, 2011 [50 favorites]


I probably wouldn't have given this campaign a second thought if not for this thread. I don't think people need the encouragement of a clothing company to be stupid, especially not if their actions are directly influenced by advertisements for jeans - those folks are sort of already there, you know?

Diesel was popular years ago, so far as I know, so this seems to be targeted to people who were once young and reckless and possibly hoping to recapture that despite having moved to a more responsible part of their life. Diesel is only too happy to charge them two hundred bucks for that illusion.
posted by codacorolla at 7:02 AM on June 12, 2011


IF WE DIDN'T HAVE STUPID THOUGHTS WE'D HAVE NO INTERESTING THOUGHTS AT ALL.

And, you know, if they didn't have the model trains they wouldn't have gotten the idea for the big trains.
posted by robself at 7:03 AM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Idiocracy is coming early.
posted by tremspeed at 7:05 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


(One of my advertising professors has worked on campaigns for a few brands of vodka, and vodka is one of the most fascinating branding challenges. Every single vodka brand is theoretically the exact same thing. So in theory you should buy the cheapest vodka you can find. But vodka companies will put out multiple versions of their same vodka, labeled differently, because people buying vodka aren't just trying to get drunk. They're trying to communicate something about themselves. Vodka advertising is all about telling people who they'll be if they're seen purchasing their product. It makes sense, in a twisted way, but I still find it pretty disgusting.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:07 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


A campaign where someone's ACTUAL slackjawed sense was thrown back at them to sell something. posted by Lipstick Thespian

Lipstick Thespian: Groupon? posted by Rory Marinich at 8:46


Incidentally, I just purchased a half-off Groupon for skydiving. On one hand, very good deal. On the other, I have committed myself to jump out of an airplane.

I feel sort of PWN3d. Maybe I should wear some of these stupid-people trousers* while engaging in this activity.


*I do not believe Diesel makes pants that would fit me.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:07 AM on June 12, 2011


The campaign has gotten people talking, infuriated some, impressed others, and gotten a lot of attention. It's pretty stupid. (In the sense that nathancaswell cites.)
posted by blucevalo at 7:10 AM on June 12, 2011




It's either really smart, or really stupid.

Just stupid.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:15 AM on June 12, 2011


Failure is an option. Go back to bed.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:15 AM on June 12, 2011


It's pretty stupid. (In the sense that nathancaswell cites.)

just make sure you say it "we got those STUPID ads."
with the stress ON the stupid
if you let "ads" get stressed more than "stupid" it just means your ads are actually stupid
posted by nathancaswell at 7:17 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


that's where the people who want their jeans to be jeans, not fashion objects, buy their clothes

This makes no sense. Jeans ARE fashion objects. Whatever you wear, however you wear it, people will assume your clothing communicates something about your identity. Of course, you don't actually have to care about how you look but this aspect of personal identity is something you can't escape. Nowadays, there is no casual clothing distinct from the idea of 'fashion'.
posted by quosimosaur at 7:22 AM on June 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm never going to buy Diesel jeans (I share hippybear's thoughts on where real jeans are bought), but I like the ads. They have their aesthetic nailed perfectly -- the photos are reminiscent of Ryan McGinley's work (many NSFW), for example, and the slogans are funny.
posted by Forktine at 7:26 AM on June 12, 2011


Real jeans are the brands sold in Farm & Ranch stores. Lee, Wrangler, Levis, and Carhartt, and maybe some cheaper house brands. That's where the prices are the best, and that's where the people who want their jeans to be jeans, not fashion objects, buy their clothes.

Everything else is a sham and a marketing ploy, overpriced and stupid. Only actually stupid, not this new redefined fake jeans marketing stupid.


Yeah, right, the idea that some jeans are somehow more authentic than others, less pretentious? Surely that's not some sort of statement...

You're still buying based on some fantasy that the clothing gives you about what you are. Even a ranch hand buying the cheapest jeans possible has some sort of idea about what wearing those jeans versus wearing a pair of pre-distressed Diesel means, which is fashion, regardless of whether it's defined in a negative or positive way. Everything is a sham and a marketing ploy - with capitalism everything you do as part of a market society is a statement, even if you'd prefer it not to be, that's the main feature of the system.
posted by codacorolla at 7:28 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rory Marinich: " Vodka advertising is all about telling people who they'll be if they're seen purchasing their product. "

It seems like that's the goal of advertising generally.
posted by oxford blue at 7:29 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally I found the campaign a refreshing alternative to the unending torrent of designer clothing advertising that hectors the viewer to stay in school, read more, enrol in evening classes, think carefully about problems and pursue self-examination. I've had enough of the fashion establishment's relentless pushing of intellectualism and the introspective life of the mind. At last a still small voice calling for vapidity, naivety and impulsiveness. Take that, you egghead designer snobs.
posted by WPW at 7:29 AM on June 12, 2011 [32 favorites]


Even a ranch hand buying the cheapest jeans possible has some sort of idea about what wearing those jeans versus wearing a pair of pre-distressed Diesel means, which is fashion, regardless of whether it's defined in a negative or positive way.

Possibly. Or maybe there are people who buy jeans because they're durable work clothes and for no other reason.
posted by hippybear at 7:30 AM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


It seems like that's the goal of advertising generally.

Yup, never cast your target consumer, cast who your target consumer wishes they were...
posted by nathancaswell at 7:34 AM on June 12, 2011


I would agree with all those folks who say that these are aspirational ads for somebody. I just can't figure out who the target demographic is given the message and the price point. It's not me, though, because while I'm not as hardcore about my jeans as hippybear, I'm not interested in paying couple hundred dollars or more for a pair of jeans. Jeans are not investment clothes (they are fashionable, not classic), and Diesel's prices are too high for more disposable clothes or clothes that will wear out IMO.

I did a little research to see where Diesel retails here in Austin. They used to have a store on Guadalupe (next to the main campus of UT, the giant state university), but apparently they closed that store in 2007 and moved to the Domain, which is an upscale walking mall/planned community, with boutiques on little streets, on the north side of town. The Domain is split between designer-type boutiques and (mostly upscale) mass fashion like J. Crew. So they're looking for a spendy demographic but not one who's willing to get that far out of mass fashion or well-known names. I guess I wouldn't have expected the Domain shopper to go for "stupid" as an advertising meme, but I only go to the Domain when I need to visit the Genius Bar or to eat, so what do I know?
posted by immlass at 7:36 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


oxford blue: That's just one approach to advertising, and inarguably it's been the most popular for a while. But there are other approaches. Apple makes a lot of effort to avoid this kind of marketing; their ads focus entirely on the features of their products, and a lot of them avoid showing any context for their product at all. The exception was their Get a Mac campaign, but even there Justin Long's Mac character was pretty devoid of personality (and was criticized for this); he's vaguely polite and kind to the PC, and he's skinny, and he doesn't wear suits, but he wasn't really a memorable character. As a thorough geek I always think it's funny that some people have this image of an "Apple user" in their head; Apple makes deliberate efforts not to ever show their typical user, because their goal is to make a universally valuable product, rather than to sell what they're making to a particular person.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:36 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Possibly. Or maybe there are people who buy jeans because they're durable work clothes and for no other reason.

It doesn't matter what he wants, or why he does what he does. If someone sees the ranch hand in a pair of Wranglers, then he knows "Ranch hands buy Wranglers." You don't get out of the capitalist system by buying different jeans at a different store. Authenticity, utility, and price are just more attributes that tag you.
posted by codacorolla at 7:36 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not even raging against the machine here. I'm a capitalist as much as any American is, like it or not. I'm just saying that the idea of authenticity is pretty meaningless.
posted by codacorolla at 7:38 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact that Youtube BP "Gulf cleanup" ads punctuate the entire video is beautiful and made my head explode. In a good way I think.
posted by changoperezoso at 7:38 AM on June 12, 2011


As an advertising campaign goes, I couldn't care less. But the ad does seem to be repeating Socrates there. "I know that I know nothing" which opens one up to learning.
posted by CarlRossi at 7:38 AM on June 12, 2011


If someone sees the ranch hand in a pair of Wranglers, then he knows "Ranch hands buy Wranglers."

everyone knows only dick sexting washed up turnover prone painkiller addict quarterbacks wear Wranglers
posted by nathancaswell at 7:41 AM on June 12, 2011


Do these jeans make my ass look stupid?
posted by Sailormom at 7:42 AM on June 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Rory Marinich: "Apple makes a lot of effort to avoid this kind of marketing; their ads focus entirely on the features of their products, and a lot of them avoid showing any context for their product at all."

I'm not sure I agree: I mean look at this video (one example of many). Similarly, their iPhone ads featured a rather hip group of young 'uns. Even their stores hint into a minimalist luxury sense of design.

It might be subtle, but to my eyes Apple is defiantly pushing a lifestyle image and contextualising their products in the best way possible.
posted by oxford blue at 7:43 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's kind of hilarious how much effort they go to with those fake Twitter accounts.

Certainly when Apple shows people, they focus on thin, vaguely fashionable people. So my saying they "make a lot of effort to avoid" was a bit much. Nonetheless, their TV ads (versus their longer promotional pieces) are person-free, and their print ads show their products on a white background. And they're deliberately going for an emotional effect with that, but I feel like that's still different from what Diesel's doing here. Apple casts certain sorts of people in their things, but I don't see that iPad: Year One ad and see them saying "If you had an iPad, you would be like these people". The focus is entirely on how the iPad changes their daily lives.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:51 AM on June 12, 2011


I don't have a tv. Does that matter?
posted by localhuman at 7:51 AM on June 12, 2011


I don't have a tv. Does that matter?

They're mostly print ads.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:53 AM on June 12, 2011


It's like spitting on a fish!

It's like barking up a tree!
posted by kyrademon at 7:53 AM on June 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't have a tv. Does that matter?

Almost never, to anyone.
posted by codacorolla at 7:53 AM on June 12, 2011 [22 favorites]


I just can't figure out who the target demographic is given the message and the price point.

Young people with money.

Is Diesel a new brand over there? I don't get it. This ad campaign has been up everywhere in NYC for more years than I can remember. Since 2008 maybe? Their stuff is expensive, and looks sort of "euro-trashy." I always assumed they were already big in Europe before coming here, just seeing their clothes and ads prior to this kind.

Their competitors in this market, in my city, are Forever 21, H&M, TopShop , Uniqlo, and a few others. Forever 21 and H&M are both ultra cheap one-time-use designer copy stores. Uniqlo is like Gap from Japan, and TopShop is trying for a hip London look. This ad campaign sets them apart from the rest, and presents a lifestyle: Young with Money--to be bought via their store. That anybody thinks this is some sort of anti-intellectualism is hilarious. The UK (which we call "KNIFECRIME ISLAND," you know, the country with the binge drinking and barbrawl problem) banning it is so absurd that I'd think you chaps are playing along with their ad agency.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:58 AM on June 12, 2011


Friendly Canadian loony Mayor McCa is the face/voice of Diesel Island
posted by scruss at 8:03 AM on June 12, 2011


Friendly Canadian loony Mayor McCa is the face/voice of Diesel Island

This is the only Canadian loonie I'm aware of.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:05 AM on June 12, 2011


I was under the impression that Diesel sold the same repackaged cheap-ass Chinese crap jeans that everyone else sold, but with a different tag.

If you want good jeans you need to go to a second-hand store. Because good jeans aren't made any more. There's no market. "Yes there is!" you protest. "I personally know a dozen people that would happily spend $200 on denim." Sure you do. The problem is, the stores already know this. So instead of giving you $200 worth of quality, they give you the same $5 jeans but give you different fits and colors so they can market themselves as "quality" and charge you more because you're a shiny bright sucker.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:08 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I believe that there ARE stupid questions. The saying itself is not stupid, however, if it gets some people with non-stupid questions to overcome their inhibitions.

Among the questions I regard as stupid and would just as soon not elicit:

"How come this ad campaign isn't really true?"

"Why do these ads promote bad decisions or values?"

"What do jeans have to do with diesels?"

posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:09 AM on June 12, 2011


You're still buying based on some fantasy that the clothing gives you about what you are. Even a ranch hand buying the cheapest jeans possible has some sort of idea about what wearing those jeans ...

I buy my (irregular) carhartts off the web and I don't tuck in my shirt, so no one can tell what brand I'm wearing anyway. I don't remember having any fantasies as I searched the "bargain bin" sections of websites, but maybe I'm doing capitalism wrong.
posted by 445supermag at 8:09 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The idea that it's okay to be stupid bothers me a lot less than the idea that it's okay to be stupid [as long as you're hot].
posted by mstokes650 at 8:13 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Young people with money.

Except that makes no real sense with their store's placement in Austin. We have Forever 21 (there is one in the Domain, apparently, which surprises me because it's a little more downmarket than most of the boutiques there) but Austin isn't hip enough for either H&M (going to Dallas) or Uniqlo. Topshop is the only one of those brands I don't know much about. When I go to the Domain, which used to be the close Apple store for me, I don't see a lot of young people with money; I saw a lot of 30somethings and 40somethings, many with kids. They don't seem like the demographic you're describing, except by way of "I can still wear the kinds of jeans I wanted to wear when I was 20" thing codacorolla mentioned upthread.

(And hell yes "stupid is good and fun/smart is bad and boring" is anti-intellectualism. That's also the default state of American society these days, as witnessed in the geek anti-intellectualism thread, for all that this campaign hardly rises above the background noise of dislike for intelligence and/or intellectual attainment. But if the statement that being stupid is better than being smart didn't appeal to someone, it wouldn't be a core part of an ad campaign. Even Apple's ad campaigns have been anti-smart. "The computer for the rest of us" was all about folks who don't think they're smart enough to use a computer.)
posted by immlass at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2011


Eh while you're all busy arguing about what makes good jeans, keep in mind this brand hasn't been doing only jeans in ages - yes denim is where it all started from but by now they probably sell more of their non-denim clothing and accessories and shoes and whatnot than they do sell jeans.

As for the campaign, well it's just a marketing campaign, not a government policy (hmm...), they've always gone for this sort of 'message' even when they didn't spell it out. It works for them so I guess it is indeed very clever.
posted by bitteschoen at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2011


I don't have a tv. Does that matter?

Almost never, to anyone.

I guess Sunday morning is not a good time for hamburgers.
posted by localhuman at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I don't have a tv. Does that matter?

Almost never, to anyone.

I guess Sunday morning is not a good time for hamburgers."

I celebrate the inscrutability of this remark, and would even recommend it to Madison Avenue.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:27 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you want good jeans you need to go to a second-hand store. Because good jeans aren't made any more. There's no market. "Yes there is!" you protest. "I personally know a dozen people that would happily spend $200 on denim." Sure you do. The problem is, the stores already know this. So instead of giving you $200 worth of quality, they give you the same $5 jeans but give you different fits and colors so they can market themselves as "quality" and charge you more because you're a shiny bright sucker.

Alas, the second-hand stores also know this, and instead of giving you good jeans, they give you the crap ones with stains. And route all the good ones to the factories where they are remade into $300 pairs, or put into Soylent Green.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:30 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Instead they're trying to start conversations about them, because if people are talking about them it means they must be something important. And the more important a brand is, the more willing people are to trust them.

Aah, the Sarah Palin experience summed up in two coherent sentences. Well done, Rory.
posted by dflemingecon at 8:31 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


At least, as kyrademon noted, these assholes have a good theme song.

I'm always fond of ad campaigns that trade on terms with a lot of tired cultural baggage. "Smart people are boring and don't take risks!" It's intellectually lazy, so must be edgy or something!
posted by Existential Dread at 8:34 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


That particular hamburger was so dry and desiccated that I couldn't even take it for what it was, Sunday morning or no.
posted by codacorolla at 8:35 AM on June 12, 2011


Well, if Anthony Wiener resigns from congress maybe there's a future for him as the new spokesman for Diesel jeans.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:39 AM on June 12, 2011


In this thread.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:40 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Diesel makes some damn fine, exceedingly durable jeans. I had a pair I wore practically every day for like five years and only discarded them after they were ripped up by a flap disk on an angle grinder. Stupid!
posted by generalist at 8:49 AM on June 12, 2011


I believe you're overthinking this.
posted by Sphinx at 8:53 AM on June 12, 2011


I am a risk-taker and a fun person, but I'll be damned if I can find a pair of diesel jeans, despite the proper waist measurement, that will fit around my thighs. Stupid folks must have skinny legs.
posted by eegphalanges at 9:01 AM on June 12, 2011


* This is why category leaders almost always have blander and less edgy advertising than their competition. McDonald's is less interesting than Burger King;

This reminds me of all the mcdonalds commercials I hear on the radio, and how they always seem so incredibly vacuous and unfunny. I never thought about them actually being designed that way. Fascinating.
posted by fungible at 9:07 AM on June 12, 2011


I'm always fond of ad campaigns that trade on terms with a lot of tired cultural baggage. "Smart people are boring and don't take risks!" It's intellectually lazy, so must be edgy or something!

Everyone's talking about it. It must be excellent. Let's throw awards at it.
posted by Summer at 9:16 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is an advertising campaign successful when it gets you talking about a product, or is it only successful when you actually buy the product it is trying to sell?

Is the surest, quickest way to become famous simply to kill somebody who's famous? Will the first jeans brand to use the swastika beat all comers at the cash register?

Where's Negativland when you need them?

Just insert STUPID every time you hear "Pepsi" ...
posted by philip-random at 9:23 AM on June 12, 2011


I hate word pedants with a passion, but it seems like the ads are using the words "stupid" versus "smart" but by context it seems like they mean "foolish" versus "cautious/wise". That kind of changes things as people in this thread are arguing about the moral validity of promoting stupidity.
posted by dodecapus at 9:33 AM on June 12, 2011


This reminds me of the time I was out with my some of my banker pals, and having had a drink, decided to try and sound like Hal Incandenza. I failed miserably and ended up doing a pretty good impression of a high-functioning yuppie Ignatius J. Reilly. My theory of mind module must have malfunctioned, because I honestly thought my tone was impressing those around me. Christ, rye and coke can really have a negative effect on a person.

Basically, what I'm saying is: I really do hold some hope this ad agency can phase this out before it commits to this path of suicide. Every fourth word out of my mouth would be an apology if I were one of the people who decided that this campaign was something that needed to exist. I guess that's why I'm not in marketing or real estate or any other field like that.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:41 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I automatically hate these jeans.

but if they can create a campaign with the words "Be a Diesel-Dyke!" I will so buy a pair
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:50 AM on June 12, 2011


You know what's stupid? Dynamic typography.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:52 AM on June 12, 2011


Andy Rooney is a Mefite?? !
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:02 AM on June 12, 2011


Rory Marinich is right about all of this, and the rest of you are the Beatnik that Don Draper pwns in Season One.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:05 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich is right about all of this, and the rest of you are the Beatnik that Don Draper pwns in Season One.

Rory being right hardly precludes most of the rest of what has been said in this thread. It's not like people who like to spend their free time on the internet beanplating advertising slogans are the target market for a "dare to be stupid" advertising campaign. Diesel has successfully differentiated their product, implying both a positive appeal to the "right" people--which must be working or they wouldn't keep using the motif--and a negative appeal to the "wrong" people.

I think it was codacorolla who said somewhere upthread that we're all tagged by our purchase decisions. "I would not purchase this item based on the image it presents" is a purchase decision too. I get that they're pushing an image but I don't like it or the product or the price point. If that means I got pwned by the cool kids, I guess I'm happy being pwned.
posted by immlass at 10:19 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pepsi Stupid.
posted by klangklangston at 10:23 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


And as far as jeans goes, Hippybear's right about going to the rural stores (in the midwest, they're Farm and Fleet, not Farm and Ranch, but it sounds the same).

Because they sell jeans to people who work outside all day, you get a lot of unfashionable cuts that will hold up for long enough to become cool, even under some pretty hard wear. Or, at least, that's been my experience buying the house brands there.

It's also one of the best places to get cast iron cookwear, something that's surprisingly hard to find at a reasonable price in the city.
posted by klangklangston at 10:33 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there some sort of secret jeans-geek keyword I can use to eliminate bleaching, distressing, crimping, etc when looking for clothes online? The reason being that I hate all that shit and I'm often too lazy to walk the mile down to Dos de Oro to see what's on sale.
posted by jtron at 10:43 AM on June 12, 2011


Is there some sort of secret jeans-geek keyword I can use to eliminate bleaching, distressing, crimping, etc when looking for clothes online?

If you want to go classic, I find Levi's 501 unwashed shrink-to-fit will be exactly what I want them to be after the first wash, every time. I don't know about other brands.
posted by hippybear at 10:48 AM on June 12, 2011


Someone should probably tell these people that smart also does a lot of those things.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:57 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're buying their overpriced fucking jeans, you're probably stupid already.
posted by jonmc at 11:06 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seriously, if you pay over $100 for fucking bluejeans they should come with someboy inside them.
posted by jonmc at 11:07 AM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


"somebody inside them" sorry.
posted by jonmc at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like a pair of the someboy jeans, please.
posted by sweetkid at 11:11 AM on June 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


I vote for Anthony Weiner to be official spokesmodel of Someboy Jeans.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the dead of winter, I walked into a Diesel store looking for a warm hat or beanie. It was snowing outside and I was freezing - my hoodie wasn't doing it. The store was decked out in t-shirts, shorts, tennis visors, and bathing suits - not a warm hat or jacket in sight. When I asked where the winter stuff was, the clerk looked at me like I was an alien and said, "Uh dude, we're IN winter, that means we're only got springwear." I blinked. He continued, "If we sold winter stuff during winter we'd be a season behind."

So that made me feel stupid for a second, then it made me feel that he was stupid. So, I guess it's a pretty good ad campaign because "stupid" is what I think whenever I see a Diesel store.
posted by analogue at 11:21 AM on June 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Real jeans are the brands sold in Farm & Ranch stores. Lee, Wrangler, Levis, and Carhartt, and maybe some cheaper house brands. That's where the prices are the best, and that's where the people who want their jeans to be jeans, not fashion objects, buy their clothes.

When my American children were teenagers (15 some years ago) they would exchange jeans with their Italian cousins who lived in the province of Vicenza, near the Diesel factory. It was a even trade pricewise with Levis and an occasional Rocky Mountain for one of the girls who loved country music. No Lee, Wrangler, or Carhartt accepted.
posted by francesca too at 11:37 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am surprised that after all of these comments no one has completed the phrase in the FPP; there are no stupid questions, but there are stupid people.

Also, Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose jeans are the real deal.
posted by TedW at 11:44 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not the cheapest but I have 3 pairs that I wear all the time for 3+ years with no signs of wear. Union made in the US, so no child labor involved.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:50 AM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think It is a bit deeper that Rory suggests. Each purchase is actually a mini identity crisis. A consumer is forced to look inward and decide, "am I a Diesel person". Yes they are aspirational for some people but for some people they are a statement of self opinion. I am pretty sure there is no escaping this, we are all forced to decide. Some of us are wrangler from the feed store people, so a smart manufacturer will produce those too. They can produce many brands that work in concert to stratify the market into discreet groups. By defining itself, Old Navy helps Banana republic, which is exactly what the parent company wants, since it owns both brands.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:59 AM on June 12, 2011


Man, I want to be a Diesel person, but my thighs are preventing me. I would do away with my thighs in my bold attempt to fit the ideal, but that would obviate the need for jeans.
posted by eegphalanges at 12:04 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would do away with my thighs in my bold attempt to fit the ideal, but that would obviate the need for jeans.

Only half the jeans!

You could create inverse cutoffs and be a trendsetter.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:16 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I want to be a Diesel person, but my thighs are preventing me.

Fuck Diesel. *finishes chocolate milkshake*
posted by Summer at 12:19 PM on June 12, 2011


Finally! A corporation that does as they say!
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 12:30 PM on June 12, 2011




Having been involved with Metafilter for almost it's decade long lifespan, reading this thread from my desk at Anomaly is probably the most fascinatingly surreal moment I've had here. Surely this will get my gold star back.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:48 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]




Heh... I should probably click every link the FPP before asking questions.
posted by codacorolla at 12:58 PM on June 12, 2011


Keerist, did I accidentally load up like propriety.com or fashionsuxxx.net or some shit? Diesel makes hoity toity raiment for randy rich youth, they have zero obligation to anyone else. Some of their clothes are really nice, I have many items got from thrift stores that I wear often. As to $100 plus jeans--I rarely pay more than $5 for clothes, but I will spend any amount for the right jeans and/or shoes. Stuff you wear every day needs to be proper.
posted by generalist at 1:12 PM on June 12, 2011


You could create inverse cutoffs and be a trendsetter.

Didn't flashers used to wear something similar under their overcoats? Like, held up with knee garters or something?
posted by hippybear at 1:24 PM on June 12, 2011


The UK (which we call "KNIFECRIME ISLAND," you know, the country with the binge drinking and barbrawl problem) banning it is so absurd that I'd think you chaps are playing along with their ad agency.

The campaign hasn't been banned in the UK - just the two specific posters mentioned in that nearly year-old article. I pass by one of the posters on the way to work, actually round the corner from the ASA. It didn't run on TV as far as I'm aware.

Topshop used to be a store aimed at teenagers, much like H+M (which is why they run pretty small) but over the past few years prices have gone up and they're reaching for an older market.

Mind you a) my job is to beanplate ad slogans b) I can't fit my massive arse into their jeans anyway.
posted by mippy at 1:31 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gah, first sentence should be in italics! Am being distracted by the Surfaris on t'radio.
posted by mippy at 1:31 PM on June 12, 2011


Didn't flashers used to wear something similar under their overcoats? Like, held up with knee garters or something?
posted by hippybear


Wait, those are out of style now? No wonder people have just been pointing and laughing at me.
posted by 445supermag at 2:37 PM on June 12, 2011


this has been around for a year or more in the US i think?
posted by Bwithh at 2:49 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


codacorolla:

For a moment then I thought the Stupid campaign was designed by a company named Anomoly on purpose, then I see it's spelled correctly on their website.

The Steve Madden shoe brand produced shoes and boots with drastically misspelled names last year or so (teen girl text-speak? attempt to discourage knockoffs?)
posted by bad grammar at 2:54 PM on June 12, 2011


From Anomaly's FAQ:

Because the Anomaly model is so drastically different, there is no single entity that we see as a competitor. Frankly, we're much more focused on collaboration than competition. Anomaly champions collaboration, so we'll work with anyone and everyone in order to generate the best solutions.

So STUPID is a best solution. I'm guessing their competition is those who find this ... stupid.
posted by philip-random at 3:07 PM on June 12, 2011


Advertising campaigns like this aren't using the old-school logic of selling a product directly to you. They're not saying, "Here's why our product is better than another product." Instead they're trying to start conversations about them, because if people are talking about them it means they must be something important. And the more important a brand is, the more willing people are to trust them. The fact that you and people like you are talking about Diesel means that Diesel is a brand apparently worth paying attention to. And then people can decide whether Diesel's brand is one that they want to apply to themselves.
Rory, thanks for your interesting comment. There is something that struck me in there: the assumption that, if people "like" me (friends?, on the assumption similar goes with similar) are talking about something (a brand), then it ought to be relevant to me, then I might choose that I am a "brand" wearing person. Is that understood to be a form of peer pressure compliance?
posted by elpapacito at 3:10 PM on June 12, 2011


My new next level industrial/dubstep/doo-wop project is going to be called "KNIFECRIME ISLAND"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:32 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


As Jonatton Yeah? said, "Stupid people think it's cool, smart people think it's funny -- also cool".
posted by acb at 5:16 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't believe the video is bad. I actually like what the message is promoting (or at least, what I'm taking away from it: live a little, act on impulse, don't overthink everything). I think this type of behavior is important in living a fulfilling life and experiencing the new and unknown, whether it turn out to be good or bad.

But, I'm not really sure where the message applies to a fashion label at all. Unless they're encouraging you to be a stupidly impulsive spendthrift and buy overpriced clothing. I would enjoy the video much more if it were not a piece of advertising and just one of those introspective pieces that we discover sometimes.
posted by erstwhile at 6:16 PM on June 12, 2011


I actually like what the message is promoting (or at least, what I'm taking away from it: live a little, act on impulse, don't overthink everything).

It's promoting jeans. Read the verbiage on the Anomoly site and you start to think they're on some sacred mission to unite the world, set us all free from our cares and concerns. But no. That's just the hook. It really is entirely about putting asses in overpriced jeans, and a significant chunk of that over-price is the lucre that ends up in Anomoly's bank account.

Nothing stupid about that.
posted by philip-random at 7:05 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen these ads around. I'm pretty smart, but I'm also pretty lonely and angry. I'm starting to agree with the ads.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:31 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


BE STUPID with your money
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 PM on June 12, 2011


JUST DO IT BE STUPID
posted by Sys Rq at 8:28 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


IT WOULD MAKE OUR JOBS A LOT SIMPLER IF YOU WERE STUPID. LITTLE HELP?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:30 PM on June 12, 2011


This sort of reminds me of that "stupid" cereal commercial...you know the one that says "...but you won't like it". After seeing that dumb commercial, I thought to myself, "Okay, well if it's so bad that they're confident I won't like it, then I won't bother to try it" and I never have :) Sometimes advertisers are idiots (actually, very very often).
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:35 PM on June 12, 2011


It's promoting jeans. Read the verbiage on the Anomoly site and you start to think they're on some sacred mission to unite the world, set us all free from our cares and concerns.

An ad agency with self-aggrandizing promotional materials? How could this happen?
posted by nathancaswell at 8:37 PM on June 12, 2011


A consumer is forced to look inward and decide, "am I a Diesel person".

Wow. I just look downward and ask, "Do I need a new pair of jeans?"

That's right, I make the call right then and there. That's the kind of guy I am.

If the next question is "Do they expect me to pay more than $30 for a pair of jeans?", I laugh and try to imagine why somebody would pay $200 for jeans.

Hey, if that's what you want to do, rock on with your expensive jeans. I'm just going to sit here and figure out how to start up my 'Cash for Jeans' buyback and denim pre-distressing service.
posted by chambers at 9:57 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This huge thread about the relative merits of an advertising slogan is distressing more than just my jeans. Can't we all just agree to ignore it and hope it goes away?
posted by omnikron at 5:30 AM on June 13, 2011


elpapacito: There is something that struck me in there: the assumption that, if people "like" me (friends?, on the assumption similar goes with similar) are talking about something (a brand), then it ought to be relevant to me, then I might choose that I am a "brand" wearing person. Is that understood to be a form of peer pressure compliance?

You know, I'm not certain if peer pressure is entirely something that advertising created. Advertising absolutely uses it; (some if not most) advertisers are happy if you're thrown into internal conflict over their product, because it means more sales for them. But there's peer pressure over everything — what you read, what you eat, how you talk. Last week I posted a Facebook status update about how I could stand listening to Insane Clown Posse for the rest of my life, just to see what would happen, and predictably within five minutes somebody told me that I was dead to her. I think it's ridiculous to decide that music's so important somebody's taste in it determines if you think they're a good person; but then, I do it all the time, sometimes unthinkingly, sometimes very consciously.

Normally I don't think there's anything wrong about understanding that what things you buy determine to some degree what people think about you. For me, picking out clothes is the same as keeping my apartment clean; I do it partly so that people feel comfortable, and partly because if it's done well enough it can actively make people happy, which I like. The store I buy at, Uniqlo, doesn't brand their clothing at all, and all of their clothes are pretty basic, cheap, and well-made. So I try to actively pick clothes based on how they look and feel rather than buying into a label with a clear-cut message. But there was that article last week that criticized Uniqlo and similar companies for encouraging people to think of themselves as a brand, and it got me worried about whether I was unhealthily obsessed about what people think of me. (Answer: Yes, because I'm 20, and every 20-year-old is unhealthily self-obsessed.) So that's why I don't have a Facebook account anymore. But I need clothes, and I might as well get them from someplace cheap and good and pretty.

This weekend some friends and I were talking about the future of corporate America. A friend of mine proposed that the new wave we're seeing is of companies that adhere their products closely to what their consumers want, and that this is a good thing. That it's a positive step that companies are trying to make us active marketers of ourselves. And I kind of agree with him. Marketing is powerful; the only way to beat marketing is to become a marketer yourself, to make your own messages, to sell your own products (whether those products are your ideas or yourself). While that fast-fashion article made me think, I ultimately feel that it's better for a clothing store to react quickly to its consumers needs then for a clothing store (like Diesel) to tell people: "This is what you could be if you bought us." It might be healthy to let consumers decide what they want to say about themselves.

So if my friends are talking about a brand, I'll usually join in the conversation. I try not to let those conversations dictate my consumption habits, but I want to talk to my friends more than I want to control the group conversation. At the same time, when I add to a conversation I try to talk about things that I think are interesting or enlightening, so that my contributions aren't just brand rehashings. But I mean I've turned every conversation I've had for a week into Apple's iCloud and how it's going to Change The World, Forever, so I'm possibly just as addled as everybody else, and deeper in denial of it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:12 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


philip-random: It's promoting jeans. Read the verbiage on the Anomoly site and you start to think they're on some sacred mission to unite the world, set us all free from our cares and concerns. But no. That's just the hook. It really is entirely about putting asses in overpriced jeans, and a significant chunk of that over-price is the lucre that ends up in Anomoly's bank account.

Frequently that isn't just a hook. There are a lot of modern advertisers who think a lot about their role in modern society, and who feel that any ad campaign they create ought to change the world for the better. Alex Bogusky of the legendary Crispin Porter + Bogusky (who did those controversial Groupon ads) recently left to create Fearless Revolution, whose goal is to promote healthy product consumption. If there's a deeper art to advertising, it's centered around the question: "How can I sell this shit I'm being paid to sell while simultaneously making people better and happier?"

While I think this Diesel campaign is misguided, some of their messages — "Do things instead of thinking about doing things", "Say yes to things even if you think you shouldn't", "Dare to fail", "Dare to think" — are ones I've been trying to live by for the last two years, and it's made me a vastly happier person. I think Diesel's sending out mixed messages, but perhaps they feel like people who dislike the message will just shrug it off and feel a bit irritated, while people who like the message will dig deeper and possibly stumble their way into some real wisdom. I don't know. The fun part of advertising is that even if that wasn't their intention they'll pretend it is 'cos it makes them look fancy; but some advertisers really do think like that, and some of their campaigns really do have a positive effect on culture. While selling shitloads of shit. It's fun.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:22 AM on June 13, 2011


"Do things instead of thinking about doing things", "Say yes to things even if you think you shouldn't", "Dare to fail", "Dare to think" — are ones I've been trying to live by for the last two years, and it's made me a vastly happier person.

No offense, Rory, but when I read this it makes me sad for you that you're saying you get this message from ads and saying you talk about brands with your friends instead of saying you have discussions about doing shit vs dreaming about shit with friends directly, without commercial intermediation.
posted by immlass at 6:37 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing is, clothing is entirely about appearance. Using lifestyle in a car ad doesn't tell you much about the car, really, but if 50-90% of the reason you're buying a T-shirt or a pair of jeans is because you want it to look good on you and/or convey certain messages about you as an individual (which, however much you care about fashion, all clothing will) then lifestyle-y marketing makes sense.

If it's wanky, well, that's another issue.
posted by mippy at 6:39 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


No offense, Rory, but when I read this it makes me sad for you that you're saying you get this message from ads and saying you talk about brands with your friends instead of saying you have discussions about doing shit vs dreaming about shit with friends directly, without commercial intermediation.

No need for your pity, immlass. Mine is a world of excellent friends, great teachers, good books, and a secret society who meets in the dead of night on a local playground and has hours-long conversations about things like this. I started living by those now-mottos before they were mottos; I was saying that other people are likely influenced by ads like this, and perhaps will see this campaign make a positive impact on their life.

If you're going to have commercial intermediation, you might as well use it to say something good. That's all I'm saying. And who are we to judge people who're blindsided by wisdom from an ad campaign? Sure, there are more comprehensive and satisfying mediums, but if people are looking at more ads than they're reading books, why is it a bad thing for ads to try leading them to wisdom?
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:03 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


why is it a bad thing for ads to try leading them to wisdom?

If you believe people whose purpose in communicating with you is to sell you products have wisdom to offer, sure. Personally, I believe advertising and marketing are net negatives in the universe--if only in a sort of Buddhist sense of making more attachment and want, particularly the sort aimed at things and not people or your cat or your hamster--and that any "wisdom" they offer is inherently suspicious, so I'm unlikely to be struck like a bolt from the blue by an ad (though I'm happy enough for those who are). Me, I looked at the ads (the web site, the video, etc.), and saw them co-branding spontaneity and bravery with stupidity on the one hand and intelligence and planning with cowardice and the quality of being boring on the other. I don't believe the correlations any more than I believe the value of $200 jeans is equal to the money paid.

"We can educate people and make them better through ads" seems to me to be both a patronizing statement towards the people advertisers are selling to and the sort of thing people who've internalized the Hicks advertising rant say to let themselves sleep better at night. I say that as a person who's worked in (technical) marketing and would not do so again if I had any other option.
posted by immlass at 8:02 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't agree that advertising's a net negative, because the art or the science behind marketing is of understanding that people don't hear exactly the things that you say, and learning how to talk to them despite that enormous barrier. The techniques that advertising has developed (and used mostly for shitty purposes) can be used for very good causes.

I feel that as our culture learns more about advertising, the better for people who have important things to say, and the worse for lazy advertisers who would inflict moral damage upon us just to sell us jeans. Right now advertising is in the middle of a pretty enormous shift, away from talking-to and towards talking-with; some people argue that it's more insidious for a company to try and start conversations with its consumers, but I feel like it's a lot healthier for a dude from a company to walk out from behind the curtain and start chatting than it is for them to play the smoke-and-mirrors games. It's very hard to pretend to be authentic; I think that modern culture will reward companies who let themselves be legitimately playful and interesting and non-shitty.

At the same time, my prediction is that this shift in marketing is going to lead to a weakening of corporate advertising, because that's a field in which you can't just throw millions of dollars into a pot and expect results. I don't know how much you follow the world of indie advertising, but lots of individuals and small groups are becoming very good at promoting their own products, because places like Facebook and Twitter and Reddit allow individuals to sell to thousands if not millions of people without paying a dime.

Advertising is a net negative in the exact same way that cinema is a net negative. For the better part of a century, cinema was a huge, expensive way for a small group of people to push images of the American Dream to the world. Cinema created false expectations for pretty much the whole world; it distorted our self-images; it promoted white masculine hetero nationalist culture and to a big degree it still does.

But I still love cinema, and I still feel there's a real art to the movies that I'm happy to have in my life. I'm worried by how much cinema influences modern culture, just as I worry about advertising; but in both cases I feel that the techniques developed are valuable and beautiful, and the cultural impact will be less hurtful with each passing year. I ask myself a lot whether it was all worth it. Are the beautiful fantasies of Hollywood worth what they wrought on the society that I hated as a kid, and that I still struggle with today? I'm not sure and I'll never have the context to understand just how they changed my life. But since I can't go back and stop it from existing, I'm free to love it, and to understand how it's affecting me so I can free myself from it, and to use it to possibly make a big difference in other people's lives. Wisdom can be found in the oddest of places. Cinema and advertising alike.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:15 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't agree that advertising's a net negative, because the art or the science behind marketing is of understanding that people don't hear exactly the things that you say, and learning how to talk to them despite that enormous barrier. The techniques that advertising has developed (and used mostly for shitty purposes) can be used for very good causes.

You're an advertising student, so I don't expect you to feel that the discipline you're studying is a net negative to the world. Having said that, it's a philosophical disagreement; YMM (and clearly does) V.
posted by immlass at 8:44 AM on June 13, 2011


Me, I looked at the ads (the web site, the video, etc.), and saw them co-branding spontaneity and bravery with stupidity on the one hand and intelligence and planning with cowardice and the quality of being boring on the other. I don't believe the correlations any more than I believe the value of $200 jeans is equal to the money paid.

Me, too.

Maybe it's a generational thing (coming of intellectual age in the 80s) and thus something I personally should pay a little more attention to in terms of my assumptions, BUT I DO NOT TRUST ADVERTISERS!!! I don't think they like me. I think they imagine me as a piece of sponge -- something that needs to be squeezed until every drop of my value is extracted; then they move along to the next sponge. If I'm looking for enlightenment, wisdom, decency, altruism of any kind -- the last place I'm going to look is an advertising agency. These are the f***ers who kept us smoking cigarettes for how long after they knew the things were killing us by the millions.

[and so on -- rant continues for a few decades]

And like I say, maybe I'm just reflecting an antiquated POV, one that wants to see the world in blacks + whites ... but Anomoly and Stupid ain't helping with that.

And finally, I don't offer all this as an Outsider. I have worked in marketing, even created-produced-directed a few TV commercials, drawn big pay checks, hung out at openings, receptions, blah blah blah. In the end, Leonard Cohen says it best: "They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within."
posted by philip-random at 9:02 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I actually like what the message is promoting (or at least, what I'm taking away from it: live a little, act on impulse, don't overthink everything).

I also like the message but this one of the sticking points for me (and one of the tags I gave this - falsedichotomy): it's not either/or; adventurism and smart (or not-stupid) aren't mutually exclusive; being unselfconscious and brave aren't the enemies of "smart".

Stupid is just so the wrong word. The message is so twisted it basically suggests abdicating responsibility for your own actions, disregarding the impact and claiming ignorance to the fallout.

The potential outcomes of this are obvious (to anyone who's crossed the road enough times without looking (and survived), or thrown a knife at an apple on a friends' head trick (and they survived)). But also what's not said is that in doing so, are you even able to appreciate the wins when your "stupid" goes right? Technically...yes, possibly. But not really, if you're not disposed to reflection and thinking about it, have you? So why are you doing it then if not to appreciate it? You're kind of just a sociopath then, aren't you?
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 1:35 PM on June 13, 2011


It's very hard to pretend to be authentic.


posted by Mike Mongo at 2:00 PM on June 13, 2011


"Advertising is a net negative in the exact same way that cinema is a net negative. For the better part of a century, cinema was a huge, expensive way for a small group of people to push images of the American Dream to the world. Cinema created false expectations for pretty much the whole world; it distorted our self-images; it promoted white masculine hetero nationalist culture and to a big degree it still does. "

Much love to you and my other advo peeps, but that's pretty much nonsense.

There's a far more significant and integral sense of creating false expectations with advertising. Not only that, but you're confusing "advertising" with "art" in a pretty important way — while it's easy to call some advertising "art," that's a bit of a metonym, in that what is the art is the graphic design (which itself is a meta-art), etc. that goes into a campaign. That art can be used for commerce isn't news, but the commerce in advertising is uncritiqued capitalism, reflexive capitalism, stupid capitalism.

Further, your view of cinema is far more unfairly reductive than Immlass's view of advertising — it's an entirely ahistorical argument and one that ignores the breadth of cinema in order to shoehorn it into a tu quoque rebuttal regarding advertisement. It's hard to argue that Brakhage was selling hero fantasies, but not hard to argue that Brakhage played a significant part in Western cinema.

Also, again, due respect, but the "wisdom" that can be found in advertising, largely by virtue of media necessities, is almost universally shallow, trite and entwined with an ideology of consumer nihilism. I understand that trite adages and aphorisms are new to everyone at some point, but really, Think Less, Do More is a pretty thin credo and even if it is good advice for your situation, it needs to be confronted critically, especially when the motive of advertising is always commercial first.

It's the same vague positivity that permeates a lot of the mass media, and it's OK in small doses, but the nature (again) of mass media means that it can't really be delivered like that economically.

"It's very hard to pretend to be authentic"

It's actually shockingly easy, and since authenticity is a mug's game anyway, it doesn't really matter. Which is why it's worthwhile to be critical of, say, Green Label Sound or the PBR sponsorships of local bands. Because authenticity can be coopted, and it doesn't mean better beer or cheaper prices, but it does mean a limitation on those bands regarding what they can say and how their "authenticity" is used.

Advertising exists like PR — a necessary discipline whose inherent conflict of interest with the public's and individual citizen's means that it should always be regarded critically and with suspicion.
posted by klangklangston at 2:14 PM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


There is one reason why I do not and will not buy or wear the brand Diesel.

It is because the brand starts with the letter "D".

"D". As is one step away from "F".

D as in dud. Duh. Dumb. Doofus. Dolt.

D is drab. D as in Dreary.

People who are unaffected by this may by choice buy or wear Diesel. But in the long-term, the brand will fail and collapse under the weight of its own ordinary baggage. This can take one year. This can take 20.

Most so-called brands are actually just businesses with logos kept afloat by gratuitous amounts of OPM (other people's money) or the gravitas of the owner's or partners' or board's egos, or a combination of both.

Yet as with each genuine brand, the first breakthrough required for acceptance and longevity is not "authenticity" [lol].

It's aesthetics.
posted by Mike Mongo at 2:36 PM on June 13, 2011


I saw this campaign a long (a year?) time ago and thought it was brilliant.

It's not new. Be stupid won Cannes Lions Outdoor Grand Prix last year.

OK, I'm not crazy. (I thought it was a long time ago.)

I don't buy name brands. I shop at discount stores (e.g. Marshall's, Ross) for socks/underwear (about every 5 years) and used-clothing stores for the rest. I will likely never wear Diesel clothes (unless they are sold used for cheap, which I suppose could happen.)

I do like advertising, however. (I also think marketing in general (not just advertising) is a "net negative" on civilization, sure, but I contain multitudes of contradictions.)

This campaign is completely wonderful. What reason could there be for spending $100 (or whatever) on a pair of pants? None whatsoever ... except for the incredibly stupid (and rich).

If the next question is "Do they expect me to pay more than $30 for a pair of jeans?", I laugh and try to imagine why somebody would pay $200 for jeans.

To be fair, I laugh (on the inside) when someone tells me they spend $30 on a pair of jeans.

But in the long-term, the brand will fail and collapse under the weight of its own ordinary baggage. This can take one year. This can take 20.

Diesel has been around for 33 years.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:28 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


For an ad that attempts to make the argument for stupidity there are way too many words.
posted by JJ86 at 6:01 PM on June 13, 2011


So, if I'm invited to a function or whatever that has a 'smart casual' dress code, I shouldn't wear Diesel jeans?
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 10:27 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


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