The ads encourage Diesel consumers to liberate themselves from the safety nets that society weaves around them
The Italian jeans brand, Diesel, has arrived in India. And its current core advertising ideology across the world is ‘Be Stupid’. That’s the message Diesel wants to pass on to the young gen, its key target audience in India, as well.
Here’s the concept behind the stupid idea: In order to create its own unique, irreverent brand identity, Diesel ads encourage youngsters to indulge in juvenile, often vulgar behaviour. That’s because they consider ‘Smart’ to be safe, dull and boring. One Diesel ad features a girl flashing at a security camera, and you can clearly see her nipples. Another one shows a woman taking a photo of her vagina in front of a lion. And so on.
Does it work? Yes, and how! Most controversial ads do. But it also works on a subliminal level; Diesel encourages its consumers to liberate themselves from the safety nets that society weaves around them. No doubt, a very appealing thought. However, the issue is, did this idea have to be expressed with pictures of teenagers behaving obnoxiously in public places? Could ‘Be Stupid’ not have been depicted with people breaking rules to make a difference around them? For example, something like what Mahatma Gandhi did? To chuck the Brits out using means that in today’s world would be considered very stupid? Aah, but that route won’t get the ads to get noticed and be talked about, would it? But a dumb bimbette flashing her breasts to a CCTV does. And Diesel knows that only too well.
In that context, I think Diesel in on the right track, whatever the level of offence to nice uncles and aunties. They get a much bigger bang for every buck they spend, all because of some shockingly outlandish advertising. And this creates a unique identity for the brand. Makes it hip, makes it cool and most importantly, makes ‘stupid’ into a style statement.
But now comes the bummer. There’s a fear the campaign won’t work in India. With our moral police on the prowl to sniff out the most harmless mischiefs, such raunchy stuff stands no chance of survival. Already, Diesel’s initial ads in India are very tame, which therefore means ‘Be Stupid’ entirely loses its potency.
I think it’s a mistake. Some court cases and some shattered shop-window panes would have got Diesel free coverage all over the media. ‘Chastised’, Diesel could then have diluted the campaign, by which time, of course, the nation and its granny would have known of the brand. Sadly, Diesel failed to practice what they preach. They have gone smart in India, when they ought to have been stupid.
The project has a concession period of 20 years and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 2,519 crore
IL&FS Transportation Networks (ITNL), part of the IL&FS group, has received the Letter of Award from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for rehabilitation, strengthening and four laning of the Chenani to Nashri Section of the NH-1A in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The project includes 9 km long tunnel (2 lanes) with parallel escape tunnel, on BOT (Annuity) basis, on the DBFO pattern. The project has a concession period of 20 years with a construction period of 1825 days and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 2,519 crore.
ITNL will receive a semi-annual Annuity of Rs 317.52 crore for the project. The company has been involved in the development, operation and maintenance of national and state highways, roads (including urban roads), flyovers and bridges in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand and Rajasthan.
Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and Procter & Gamble (P&G) India have been washing each other’s dirty linen in public for quite some time now. But, as the dust settles down in this no-holds-barred clash between the two multinationals, some interesting facts are emerging out of the whole imbroglio.
According to informed sources in the advertising industry—who spoke to Moneylife on conditions of anonymity—HUL had been pulled up by the Madras High Court for using an off-white shirt for P&G’s Tide detergent and a brand new white shirt for its own Rin detergent, when the commercial was filmed to ‘judge’ the comparative whitening qualities of both detergents.
HUL has withdrawn the commercial, but the reasons for the same were not publicly known till now. Our sources said that if this ad had been aired with two similar shirts which were either off-white or white, the advertisement would have been justified. Plus, if HUL had backed the advertisement with laboratory data and certification that Rin is a product of superior quality, it could have been accepted by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) as per its standards and code of conduct.
P&G refused to speak on this issue, saying that it does not “comment on its competitor’s strategy.” On the other hand, the HUL spokesperson said that the final court orders are still pending and will be announced in a day or two. In its defence, HUL said that these claims are “quite mischievous in nature” as the court had enquired about the difference in the greyness rather than the colour of the two shirts used in the commercial.
After the Madras High Court passed an order directing HUL to stop airing its ad, the multinational decided to move court again, on P&G’s advertisement which had scenes which seemed to suggest that ‘Tide Natural’ contains “natural sandalwood and lemon.”
In an interim order, the High Court asked P&G to remove those scenes. The Court had also asked P&G to carry a disclaimer saying that Tide Natural “does not contain lemon and sandalwood” throughout the commercial and these modifications were supposed to be implemented by 3 May 2010.
Industry sources claim that P&G is pleased with the order, since the High Court did not agree to HUL’s request for modifying the brand name or packaging of Tide Natural.
P&G told Moneylife, “We have never tried to communicate in our Tide Natural advertising that our product contains lemon and chandan (sandalwood). Our packaging continues to say ‘The freshness of lemon and chandan’, which we do have in the product through the fragrance of lemon and chandan. Usage of terms like these is industry practice and P&G is not drifting (away) from the norm. The Madras High Court believes that a few frames in our TV commercial misrepresent the presence of these ingredients and therefore need to be dropped from the commercial. We respect the court order and will fully comply with the actions and modifications requested of us.”
Interestingly, a decade ago, Unilever also faced flak for its Rin ad which claimed ‘nimbu shakti’ (lime power) when it had no lime, but only the fragrance of lime. Unfortunately, these companies manage to hoodwink customers because the law gives them a lot of leeway in making such claims that may be legal—but not quite ethical.