Diesel, the Italian clothing manufacturer, has been raising the heat with a provocative advertising campaign, “Global Warming Ready”, launched at the end of January. A series of newspaper, magazine and billboard advertisements shows models posing in Diesel clothing in a world affected by raised water levels and temperatures.
Marketing staff see the “Global Warming Ready” campaign as consistent with Diesel’s tradition of generating attention and provoking discussion of serious societal issues with a tongue-in-cheek ironic voice. “Global Warming Ready” portrays the potential look of this new world while representing it in an aesthetically beautiful way. “The shocking effects of Global Warming are not immediately noticeable but are subtly revealed through details in the ads depicting ordinary scenes in a surreal, post-Global Warming world.”
The advertisements feature New York completely submerged in water, St. Mark’s Square in Venice filled with tropical birds rather than pigeons, the Eiffel Tower in Paris surrounded by the jungle, a flooded Rio de Janeiro, a beachy Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and Finland, once Nordic, turned into a desert.
“Global Warming Ready” at first glance appears to be just another fashion advertisement. On second glance the campaign appears to be an arrogant swipe at the concerns of environmentalists. Wealthy people will continue to buy fashionable clothing even in a world affected by climatic disaster. A visit to the web site reveals further ambiguities.
The print ads are supported online with various consumer materials aimed at engaging with global warming. A tongue-in-cheek video raises issue relating to climate change. A map shows the world’s seaside regions completely under water. Diesel promises to provide a guide for dune buggy tours in Lapland and windsurfing on Fifth Avenue, New York. Diesel encourages customers to buy and watch Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth on DVD.
“Ten things you can do to stop Global Warming” answers the question, “How can I atone (without changing my glamorous lifestyle, of course)? Diesel’s site visitors are encouraged to save the planet by having sex (quietly) to cut down on heating, walking to the shops, turning off lights, insulating homes with recycled denim, never taking a shower, unplugging electric guitar at the wall, giving fashion magazines to grannies, friends or anyone, hanging up towels, planting trees, and eating steak in a restaurant (to make it possible to get rid of the fridge at home).
Diesel outlines a partnership with climate change watchdog, www.stopglobalwarming.org, an online grassroots movement designed to bring citizens together to demand solutions to Global Warming. “So a beach party in Mount Rushmore sounds like fun, right? If you don’t agree there is still time to turn the tide. Maybe. Get informed, get in touch and get involved. This is the cause of our lifetime and the fight our generation. It’s not just trendy. Green is the new black. Join the virtual march.”
Not everyone is impressed however.
Mel Young, at New Consumer, calls for a boycott of Diesel’s clothing line. “Diesel is appealing the worst aspect of human nature – one of greed and selfishness. Perhaps the people who own Diesel might like to watch films of children dying in floods in Bangladesh, where existing floods are being exacerbated by climate change. It might just get them to understand that making ‘funny’ little advertising campaigns out of misery really is beneath contempt.”
Paul Harrison at The Varsity Online is similarly scathing. “It is clear that Diesel is far less concerned with fomenting political activism and lifestyle change than they are with selling their brand. As far as corporate social campaigns go, this attitude is hardly surprising, but Diesel’s campaign is particularly inept, blatantly self-interested, and woefully uninformed.”
The Diesel In-House team, Wilbert Das, Antonella Viero, Lucinda Spera and Giulia Castellini, worked with photographer Terry Richardson, (Katy Barker Agency) revisiting the collaboration responsible for last year’s controversial angel campaign. All creative was designed by Diesel’s global agency Marcel, France, by executive creative director/copywriter/account supervisor Frederic Temin, creative director/art director Nicholas Chauvin, art director/typographer Romin Favre.
The campaign won a Silver Lion for Print at Cannes International Advertising Festival 2007.