Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Diesel's Stupid Ad Campaign

If you're unfortunate enough to have seen it, urban clothes chain Diesel has an in-your-face ad campaign all about, well, basically, Smart is bad, stupid is good. As you can see on these signs on the windows of its downtown San Francisco store, the campaign is using slogans like, "Smart listens to the head, Stupid listens to the heart" or "Smart critiques, Stupid creates" and so on.

The company posted its video manifesto on YouTube, and it set off a raucous and (as it inevitably gets with public online comments) foul-mouthed exchange from people who think the ad campaign is awful and those who think it's genius.

Put me in the former camp. I hated it from the minute I first saw it, and each time I come across one of its ads, my hatred grows.

The best defense of the campaign, as explained by the YouTube defenders (not a bad band name, that), is that people like me are misinterpreting it; the campaign isn't attacking intelligence and thinking, it's supporting those who continue to pursue their passions despite being told they're stupid.

A fair enough defense. But if that was the intention of the people who designed this campaign, then they either did a poor job at getting across their idea or they intended to be interpreted "incorrectly" and thus they could claim to be controversial and cutting-edge. Either way, the company needs new creative talent.

If the campaign was intended to support creativity against naysayers, then it would have gone more directly with that message. (After all, this is not a subtle ad campaign, so that's not a defense.) It would have focused on persevering despite criticism; it wouldn't have messaged that brains and smart and thinking are the culprit. In fact, they could have gotten across the message that it's smarter to ignore criticism sometimes. I don't know of any creative people who've made a success of themselves who did it without a great deal of brain power, of smarts, of raw and refined intelligence. It takes a lot of brains and experience (and thus wisdom) to be able to tell what critiques are worth ignoring and which have constructive criticism.

So I just don't buy the claim that the company was trying to get across that message.

This is an ad campaign that celebrates stupidity, that doesn't have the courage of its convictions, and certainly doesn't have the intelligence behind it to hold up its end of the argument. Worst of all, it's an assault on the one hope this silly planet has of solving its problems. Let's face it: At no point in history, anywhere, has mankind ever suffered from too much intelligence. Every problem, every disaster, every mistake is the result of too little information, not enough thinking, and/or the application of emotion over intelligence. "Smart" doesn't exclude the use of and understanding of emotion; in fact, it requires it. But "stupid" does preclude the use of and understanding of intelligence.

Post a Comment