Hey Stupid! Diesel Thinks You’re Awesome

Who is Diesel’s new campaign calling “stupid?” Oh, it’s us.



With every new day, the phrase “I’m just not the target demographic” seems to be more relevant for me.

Earlier this week I saw a couple of striking posters that caught my eye. They were bold, typographic and used hot colors. That was the good part. Then I read the message: SMART LISTENS TO THE HEAD. STUPID LISTENS TO THE HEART. BE STUPID.


This is a new ad campaign from Diesel fashions. Their pitch is that smart is cold, intellectual, and cautious, and has only one good idea. Stupid is exciting, hot, emotional full of possibility, and has “balls.” The logic seemed pretty weak.

I decided to visit their Web site for some clue as to what I was missing, I found an animated typographic video with thumping soundtrack spewing wisdoms such as “Stupid is the relentless pursuit of a regret-free life” and “Smart has the plans, stupid has the stories.”

This campaign hopes to capture video from people (aka customers) who will become part of their online video catalog and “give them the great opportunity to demonstrate their stupidity to the world.” It asks, “Are you doing something stupid like starting a band or building a tree house?” Not bad ideas to me.

Diesel’s strategy exploits the rampant obsession with fame–YouTubing, reality TV, and the chance for instant stardom in the social networking space–to create buzz and lure shoppers to buy their clothes.


Graphically, this campaign is strong, simple, and punchy. Twisted logic aside, I agree with the basic premise that risk and failure can be enormously energizing, if not essential, to the creative process. There is value in this message. It’s just that Diesel’s blatantly provocative campaign is so forced. It’s meant to challenge convention but uses old techniques. Stay tuned for plenty of worm eating, lousy singing and gross stunts that can be seen on any episode of Jackass. Unfortunately, it will give credence to any lame brain idea just for fifteen minutes of fame.

But there I go again, using my head instead of my heart.

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Expert Designers

Ken Carbone is among America’s most
respected graphic designers, whose work is renowned for its clarity and
intelligence. He has built an international reputation creating
outstanding programs for world-class clients, including Tiffany &
Co., W.L Gore, Herman Miller, PBS, Christie’s, Nonesuch Records, the W
Hotel Group, and The Taubman Company. His clients also include
celebrated cultural institutions such as the Museé du Louvre, The
Museum of Modern Art, The Pierpont Morgan Library, The Chicago Symphony
Orchestra, and the High Museum of Art.

About the author

Ken Carbone is a designer, artist, musician, author and teacher. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Director of the Carbone Smolan Agency, a design and branding company in New York City