Stupid Ain’t Dumb

January 26, 2010 § 29 Comments

So much has been said about the latest Diesel Ad Campaign, that I am tempted to skip any opinion on this post, and instead, ask you for yours.

This ad campaign is currently plastered all over the city, in your face, my face, and now on your screen. Blame me for the latter:)

I could also, stare at these ads long enough, until the creative strategy becomes apparent, like an epiphany of sorts. And then, spill a lengthy essay all over this page like the opinionated bug that I am.

But more easily done is adding a link to Creative Review, since it provides quite an unbiased, clear and objective piece information on this ad campaign (Laziness wins!). Skip the comments section on Creative Review for now – as it might influence your own response to these adverts. And what I need is your unadulterated instinctive response! Even if you think it’s stupid. It ain’t.

Here we go with some non-reel, real life images from the West 4th street subway station, NYC. Close to the Washington Square Park, N.Y.U., and West Village pubs. Believe it when I say that this subway stop is currently imploding with Diesel typography:

Observation#1: I did run into people who were mighty amused with these ads: some who posed or smiled, and some that suppressed a smile and skipped away before I could click them. All in jolly good fun.

The society’s conscience bearers are saying that selling ‘Stupid’ as an ideology to our young folks is downright wrong. Some people agree that buying an expensive pair of Diesel jeans is definitely a very stupid act, as are these ads. The end justifies the means kind of thing. Some are confident that the creative ad campaign lacks…er..creativity, and is destined to fail.

There are others who think that the creative message is not literal, it’s the irony we need to appreciate. Being wise sometimes limits us from doing things we could have done, discovered things we didn’t, and so on…leading to unknown possibilities we have not allowed ourselves to explore in favor of the known ones.

Observation#2: People walking past these ads were not taking them as a personal assault. No, they do not think Diesel thinks they are stupid.

Are you getting my drift?

What is your take? Can Stupid be redefined as something embodying creative freedom, love for risks and instinctive behavior?

Which reminds me: This is not the first time we have tried to redefine Stupid. I wonder why that is.

Remember? “Stupid is, as stupid does.”


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§ 29 Responses to Stupid Ain’t Dumb

  • Aha! Keeping it Simple, Stupid!

    K.I.S.S. and as is the norm <3,


  • Stupid may be redefined as something embodying creative freedom, love for risks and instinctive behavior!

    I like the approach.. it’s about loosing up – about letting go of the load of discipline -self imposed or otherwise, and be Stupid. Coz for god sake – things need to be shaken up.. it’s all getting way too defined and boring.


    • The Juicer says:

      Loosening up sounds like a very good idea! And come to think of it, aren’t all adventure sports in a way Stupid? And how much fun they are!

      Stupid, does have a place in our lives. It already exists and we already enjoy it!

  • It’s caught everyone’s attention.

  • grunskm says:

    I love being stupid. But only when it’s pronounced stoopid.
    What a stupid comment.

    Stupid can be used in so many ways.
    I think Diesel sees irrational as a synonym for stupid.
    So many good things are the product of not being rational.

    I’m not sure what that has to do with jeans.

    Maybe thats the point.

    In any case, if I were in a store I would pay more attention to Diesel and therefore would be more inclined to buy them.

    • The Juicer says:

      Good question- “I’m not sure what that has to do with jeans”
      What they are trying to do is create an image that stands for irrational abandon/creativity and will strike a chord with youngsters who crave to be free of a set, acceptable pattern of behavior. Also applies to youngsters who would like to be perceived as breaking the rules of Stupid vs Smart. Whether it’s a jean or a laptop, the product embodies that image/ philosophy.
      As Creative Review calls it: it’s a manifesto.

      On the other hand, it’s very easy to turn that around and say- “Buying Diesel jeans IS stupid, so yeah, you are stupid for doing so!”

      If you are now curious about the Diesel product, and would look out for them in a store as you say, then Diesel has managed the first step of converting a non-customer into a customer:) Creating curiosity about their product is obviously a win.

  • seanfraser says:

    stupid is boring……jeans are boring……..get a real pair of pants…… intelligent not slow-witted

    • The Juicer says:

      So pants= intelligent & jeans=slow-witted?

      I am curious: How do you define ‘A real pair of pants’? Tell us all! :D

      P.S Slow-witted? I guess you meant dim-witted, right? Heh.

  • seanfraser says:

    Hey I think khakis can be cool…does George Clooney wear jeans??

    Slow-witted or dim-witted both these colloquial expression in Australia mean ‘not too bright’ or ‘one sandwich short of a picnic’…….they are meant to be fun but I guess when you think of it they could be offensive just like in a Fish called Wanda ‘don’t call me stupid’

    • The Juicer says:

      Well, I do not agree with your point that jeans are boring or ‘slow-witted’, but I was curious to understand why you think so. It’s interesting to know that George Clooney is defining the difference between those two for you! :)

      Ah, and more interesting info- phrases from Australia! Language is so interesting, and how it changes from one place or one culture to another is even more intriguing. Happy I learned something new! Thank you for that piece of information.

  • seanfraser says:

    Hi Juicer, Ha Ha leave George alone………I’m not saying stupid Diesel says stupid…….but I do know “they” say ‘smarty pants’ not ‘smarty jeans’… I guess “they” know

    • The Juicer says:

      Ooh..from Clooney to ‘they’…you do shift gears now Mr. Sean. Haha. Whatever. I will leave Clooney out of this, only because you say so:)
      Smarty pants is a funny phrase, and I confess I am very fond of using it ever so often! But I don’t think it’s meant to be taken literally. As in, it applies even with no pants or jeans on! :D

  • Isn’t the purpose of an ad campaign to get people talking about their product…which we are BTW. Stupid like a fox.

    I love the B&W pics though.

    • The Juicer says:

      I don’t believe in the theory that any publicity is good publicity. Ridicule, or backlash to an Ad campaign, a political candidate or a new product launch also leads to discussions, but is eventually negative publicity. So, I don’t think Diesel is pulling a stunt here, trying to just get short term attention. That would be more like the Weatherproof’s Obama ad.
      Going by history, Diesel uses advertising as a strong creative force to back their product. Foxy, could be. But not in a cloak, methinks. That would be too big a risk for them. But, I could be wrong. And you do bring up an impression that people have. Whether it’s the majority or not, I wish I could say!

      Thanks for noticing the pics:) In all this hoopla…who really cares how the shots look? You make my day:)

  • Maggie says:

    I find it an odd campaign. Someone can take it the wrong way and take offense to it. I’m impartial and don’t care, and solely find it odd.

  • Gerard says:

    Good shots !! (and good campain, I’ll buy one)

  • It’s trying to appropriate the behaviours or approaches associated with stupidity that can be good or useful.
    Very clever, but you have to be thinking academically to deconstruct it with confidence.
    Meaning, basically, that some people are gonna fucking hate and some will love it.

    • The Juicer says:

      Very well dissected Collatetoredeem! And done quite succinctly. I agree with you completely.
      Thanks for a visiting and sharing your thoughts. Welcome to this space!

  • vidu says:

    the campaign is really STUPID.

    yes, I agree one is regarded as stupid when one thinks or acts without boundaries. But that creative insanity is much different from being just plane stupid. That stupidity is excessive thinking..maybe involves intelligence…..but diesel is promoting plane stupidity…. no thinking no intelligence…

  • vidu says:

    oops…plain not plane :-(

  • fotdmike says:

    Well, call me stupid if you like (!) but Diesel didn’t mean a thing to me… even though I have a sort of shoulderbag/laptop case with the Diesel logo on it. So I just sort of stupidly presumed it was a brand name for something or other and thought no more about it… though its a jolly good shoulderbag.
    It did occur to me that it was probably full of meaning for a younger generation and I, a rapidly-becoming geriatric, would look a bit stupid carrying it around, but what the hell.

    So if nothing else at all this wonderful post has enlightened me. About which I’m not sure I’m totally pleased. Ploughing on in blind ignorance tends to be more my style.

    And none of the foregoing is entirely irrelevant. For I’m inclined to think that by “embracing Stupid” (although I use a somewhat different word, but the intent’s the same) we go some way toward countering the tendency to take ourselves far too seriously. Which, in my book, has to be a good thing.
    Or, as a previous generation would have phrased it, “Loosen up”.

    The ad campaign itself? Well, I suspect my initial encounter with it, given that I didn’t have a clue what Diesel is/was, would have been to ignore it. Then a second encounter would have led to my becoming intrigued. Ultimately leading to my making some effort to discover what its all about. At which point I probably would have begun to appreciate the philosophy behind it, and become somewhat respectful of Diesel for having had the imagination to run such a campaign. And, were I into jeans-buying, then I likely would have been tempted to buy a pair of their jeans on the strength of that alone.

    So yeah, for me I think its a clever campaign and it works. But then I’m biased… cos I used to be into the PR/images business meself!

    • The Juicer says:

      Well pointed out Mike: “Loosen up” is synonymous to the underlying mantra.
      I think it’s very relevant that a non-customer like you is intrigued with the ads. Even though you’ve worked in the PR industry earlier, how many ads really make you want to check out the product? Not many, is my guess. That’s quite an achievement for the Diesel creative ads team I’d say.

      I am curious, did you see these ads in the UK?

      • fotdmike says:

        Can’t say I’ve noticed any Diesel ads over here… though in fairness my local town is somewhat on the parochial side. There may be some in London but I’m not aware of having seen any.
        Could be I’ve just not noticed them, though I think that’s unlikely as I tend to pay a little more attention to billboards etc than perhaps many other folk do… sort of ex-professional interest if you like.
        However, I rarely respond to them in any significant way unless they strike me as being particularly clever or imaginative.

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