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Diesel's New Campaign Redefines Stupid
By: Jeff Louis
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Stupid isn't an attribute you'd want people to associate with you after reading your résumé. Face it: The word has a bad rep.

As children, we’re taught not to call anyone stupid. It’s one of those words that just isn't nice. Thus, when Diesel's PR department let me know about a campaign that revolved around redefining stupid, my first thought was they clearly don't know me very well. The profile on every site I've ever joined clearly states I hate stupid people.

Then sarcasm took over, and I thought how happy it'd make me to trash Diesel because stupid corporations are worse than stupid people.

I told them to send me the information. I was ripe, and it was on. I already knew what I was going to write. I did the background work: read the mission statement, researched the company, asked for demographics, etc. I was salivating.

Then the campaign began to make sense to me, and while I didn't think that Diesel or Anomaly (their agency) were going to gain praise from marketing or ad peeps, their campaign was sure to resonate with their target audience. (No matter how much criticism a campaign receives from the industry, in the end, only one audience counts.)

Why would it work? Because it was a stupid idea. It was so stupid, in fact, that it's actually quite creative.

The campaign hinges on the premise that there's a smart road in life, but smart can often lead to mundane, boring, and safe. Then there's a stupid road where life's decisions are made by the heart and not the melon. It's one where your best thinking got you right to where you are.

Stupid is a path that fulfills a life with character. It's is a well-traveled road, but Diesel offers a different perspective on the journey: Sometimes your worst decisions lead to your greatest joys. Just ask me. I know. Maybe that's why the campaign makes sense to me: I think with my heart, get caught in the moment, speak without thinking, and leave the hard stuff for the grown-ups.

Stupid is risky, unconventional. Stupid tells a story. Stupid doesn’t have a route, a plan, or an agenda.

Stupid is launching a campaign based upon a negative word that twists into a positive -- during a recession. Diesel’s campaign is stupid, all right. It's stupid enough to be brilliant.

It reminds there are still people who think out there. They are unafraid to make a mistake. It smacks of the industry I fell in with but lost in the corporate kowtowing that ruins advertising creativity. Creative advertising is built on the concept of changing perceptions and redefining the status quo, or at least I thought it was.

The campaign starts this month, with videos on YouTube, a Web component allowing fans to upload videos for the upcoming “Diesel Stupid Music Video,” T-shirts given to influencers in New York City and Los Angeles, subway station dominations in NYC, prominent billboard displays in NYC and L.A., complete window takeovers in 13 Diesel stores, event marketing in both cities and street snipes in NYC, LA, and San Francisco. Diesel also has a few surprises planned.

You've read my views on the campaign; I’d love to hear yours. Don’t worry about being judged. All comments will be judged as stupid, no matter what you write.

Company Information: Diesel was founded in 1978 by Renzo Rosso and based upon his vision the Diesel brand would stand for passion, individuality, and self-expression. While Diesel has maintained this vision, they recently branched out into premium casual wear. Diesel employs 4,000 people worldwide and oversee 18 subsidiaries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Diesel maintains a presence in more than 80 countries. To find out more about Diesel, visit Diesel.com.

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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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