Posted by Abe Sauer on September 24, 2010 10:00 AM
Ah, Diesel. When we last visited the brand desperately trying to insult anything and everything (including intelligence), Diesel was imploring consumers to "Be stupid." It appears Diesel took its own advice with the new campaign for its "Kick Ass" shoes.
Watch the above spot and see if you get the intelligent subtlety embedded within the campaign. But wait, there's more!
How badly is Diesel trying to bring some edginess to its image? The brand appears to have gone even further off the rails in its latest effort, woefully misinterpreting how and why things are considered "cool." (Hint: It's not through overt attempts to be controversial.)
Diesel should note that nihilism as a branding message is fundamentally self-destructive. Exhibit A: See more of the "Kick Ass" messaging spots, below.
It's a shame, because Diesel's "not made for running" direction hints at the foundation of a great, truly subversive message. Alas, Diesel's "ass" passes up sass for jackass (and echoes KFC's similar "making an ass of one's brand" campaign).
From a branding perspective, the problem here is twofold. First, what do fat jokes really say about a brand? Is this supposed to motivate the consumer whose ass is being kicked, or the one doing the kicking?
Secondly, imagine the interior monologue of the consumer exposed to this campaign: "Why do I, as a cool-striving young person, want to associate myself with the Diesel brand? Sure, watching some butt fat jiggle around in slow motion for much longer than expected is something I've never seen before, but it doesn't make me want to buy the shoes."
At one time these obtuse messages and shock-pap ads set Diesel apart as a denim company with serious character and edgy attitude. But everyone else caught up. Levi's recent "Go Forth" campaign at least speaks to the brand's history and a future.
The second (worse) problem is that this leaves Diesel nowhere to go. This positioning is a dead end, unless the brand intends to run this kind of messaging indefinitely. Diminishing returns will ensure that nobody cares in 12 months: just ask PETA and its nude no-fur models.
Bottom line: Diesel has placed a giant "kick me" sign on its own back.