And told us to drink pee in order to stay young.
Diesel is doing it again. They’re being weird and trying to play us into buying something that isn’t real: their new knock-off line. The DEISEL campaign is a pretty clever way for the denim brand to stay relevant and tap into the younger generation’s need to stand out.
Still, not many brands could pull a stunt like that and gain MORE credibility.
“I think a brand like Diesel has the balls and the right to talk like this,” said Andy Bird, chief creative officer, Publicis New York. “There aren’t many brands that would take a calculated risk like this, but because they kind of know that they already have the cachet with the past history of advertising, they’ve always been a bit more adventurous and it fits perfectly with their outlook.”
Which is true. Because in the late 90s, Diesel made me believe that drinking pee was a thing (for the record, I did not drink my own pee).
Photographed by Jean Pierre Khazem, under the direction of Kessels Kramer, the ‘Save Yourself’ campaign was another example of Diesel’s penchant for radical advertisement. The point was to poke fun at society’s obsession with youth. ‘So many people are [worried about] their appearance,’ explains Marissa Guerrera, ad manager at the time of the company’s Canadian headquarters. ‘They’re going to spas where they can relax and stay wrinkle free. This [campaign] is a big joke.’
The ads featured models wearing face masks akin to porcelain dolls. The effect was creepy; they looked like ghostly characters from some bizarre horror movie.
In one of them, a woman holds a cocktail glass filled with what appears to be urine. Her name is Helen Pickering, and she was born in 1899. The copy reads, ‘I’ve been enjoying the fountain of youth for over a century. It’s full of vitamins, I can make it myself and there’s a never-ending supply. I may have bad breath but I look fantastic.’
In another ad named ‘Cloning,’ Louise Kemp-Welch, who was born in 1893, copies herself four times and in all versions she is dressed in head to toe Diesel. ‘I thought my youth was over, but then I discovered cloning,’ she explains. ‘Now I can enjoy being young and attractive again and again. And if I discover a wrinkle, I’ll just clone another me!’
Other ways to avoid aging according to Diesel? Don’t have sex, sleep for 100 years straight and attach yourself to a computer.
‘It’s tongue-in-cheek as usual,’ Guerrera said. ‘We don’t think people will take it literally, because they tend not to take our other campaigns literally.’ Plus, ‘Save Yourself’ is indirectly targeted at youth, who will both comprehend and commend its subversive nature, she adds. ‘We’ve never been a brand that has attacked the youth market with advertising that’s constantly in your face. This is an underground way, where they can look at it and say it’s funny and think it’s cool.’
Even though the DEISEL campaign is “in” with the times, it’s still true to Diesel’s off-beat legacy. This is exactly who the brand is, so if I buy one of those “knock-off” t-shirts believe me when I say I am buying into a Diesel lifestyle that I have known, grown up with, and totally get. Hashtag not-doing-it-for-the-‘gram.