Posted by Abe Sauer on September 5, 2011 04:09 PM
The initial jarring element of Palladium Boots' (maybe) exploitative new campaign is the use of "3/11" in the same way "9/11" is used in the US to describe the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. While the earthquake and tsunami that turned much of Japan upside down in March 2011, the moniker "3/11" is hardly a mainstay, making Palladium's use all the more intentionally evocative… and exploitative.
Tokyo Rising, its new video "exploration" of the city hosted by Pharrell, faces "a new reality after the tragedy of 3/11." This makes Palladium, maybe, the first brand to heavily leverage the disaster for a brand campaign. (It is something American brands have already mastered with 9/11.)
"Tokyo faces a new reality after the tragedy of 3/11. While persistent challenges still lay ahead, the city’s creative class is hell-bent on making sure that their hometown thrives. Innovative and resilient, they are defining the future of Tokyo on their own terms. We put our boots on and went exploring."
That's how Palladium, a 60-plus year-old footwear brand that's based in France, describes its "Tokyo Rising" campaign.
It would be interesting to know how those actually directly suffering from the devastating fallout of the quake and tsunami feel, but this video is about Tokyo, a city whose suffering was largely confined to some rolling power blackouts and long subway lines. Going from the parallels the moniker "3/11" draws to "9/11," Tokyo's 3/11 suffering was kind of like Boston's 9/11 experience.
Meanwhile, the film series' director told Rolling Stone about the campaign: "When other people are leaving Tokyo or simply not visiting, we wanted to explore how the young creative set is rising to meet the challenges of the 3/11 disaster — and to ask the question of what comes next for this city that is known for its resilience." Riiiiiiiight, dude.
Maybe this is reading too much into it. Pharrell talking a bunch of deep mumbo jumbo about artistry in the service of brands seems to not be such a special thing; from the look of his new Smirnoff commercial, it seems he's even able to multitask.