Diesel gears up for controversial advertising campaign

Jeans brand Diesel will unveil a controversial advertising campaign in March, which includes ads of the Virgin Mary in jeans, a serial killer cutting up human limbs and a spoof on soft porn.

The House of Fraser has already refused to run the ads in its in-store magazine, because it says they are “unsuitable”.

For the first time Diesel is moving away from branding advertising and instead using product-led executions.

Jethro Marshall, Diesel UK marketing manager, says: “For the past six years we have focused on identity, using original advertising. But it has got to the point where Diesel is better known for its ads than its products.”

D-Diesel, the brand’s cheaper and less trendy range, will take up 75 per cent of the press budget. The work is by Lowe Howard-Spink.

The rest of the press work, which is a spoof on mail order catalogues, will be aimed at both men and women. All the ads will appear in The Face, Elle, I-D Attitude and Sky.

There will also be a national outdoor campaign using six-sheet poster sites, London Underground and 30 megarears on buses outside London. These aim to present Diesel as a superior denim brand and will feature nuns and the Virgin Mary wearing Diesel jeans.

In March the company has bought all cross-track poster sites at Covent Garden Tube station, near its flagship store.

The broadcast executions, called “Business as Usual”, emphasise Diesel brand values and are a spoof on the soft-porn industry in the US. The executions, by Paradiset DDB, will appear on Channel 4 in Scotland and Ireland and in cinemas nationwide.

It is planned to place the cinema advertising around Jackie Bran, Quentin Tarantino’s new film, and Velvet Goldmine, Ewan McGregor’s latest film. However, the ad is awaiting certification because it is “quite racy”, according to Marshall.

Marshall adds: “We don’t aim for controversy. We are warm and humanistic about issues. We do not employ shock tactics.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here