Diesel Brand Management
It was also seen as a way to counteract the unprecedented diffusion of the main denim D-Diesel line which might Jeopardize the exclusivity and status of the brand. Furthermore, Stellar would allow Diesels cherished designers to express their creativity by experimenting with new cuts and fabrics. Reno Ross, Diesel’s president and founder, was confident that the right decisions had been made about the name, design, production, pricing and distribution of Stellar, but was still debating what the appropriate branding strategy for the new line should be.
Three options were under consideration: sub-branding (e. G. , Disyllable’s endorsement (e. G. , Stellar by Diesel), or independence (Stellar with no reference to Diesel). Which option should he choose? And how should he implement the new branding strategy to achieve the objectives assigned to Stellar? Company Background OF 20 parents, he studied textiles and manufacturing in Pad and started working for Adrian Schoolchild, known as “the pioneer of Italian casual wear”. In 1978, Schoolchild and Ross founded a company called Diesel.
The name was chosen by Schoolchild “because it’s one of the few words pronounced the same in every language”. L From the very beginning they viewed the world as a single macro culture for
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That same year, FEM. and Menswear, the Auk’s most influential fashion magazines for men, voted Diesel ‘Fashion Brand of the Year’. Based in the tiny village of Molten in Northern Italy, Diesel employed more than 1,000 people worldwide. Its products were available in more than 50 countries, through 10,000 independent retailers and 40 company-owned stores, including flagship outlets on New Work’s Lexington Avenue and Loon’s Covent Garden. In 1997 its consolidated annual turnover amounted to 503 billion lire (в?260 million), 85% of which was generated outside Italy. Financial Times, August 20, 1998.
The Diesel Way Diesel’s design, advertising and management style embodied a love of humor, creativity and irreverence towards established rules. Ross (aren’t’ to almost everybody in the company) personally selected about 90% of his employees, mostly on the basis of their shared passion for Diesel. For example, when invited to receive the “Grand PRI”, advertising top prize at the official ceremony in Cannes in 2001, he appeared on stage with four clones-?team members made-up to look like him (see Exhibit 1). Media Advertising Before 1991 Diesel was a typical young design company.
It focused all its energy on launching new products (about 1,800 new references per year) and did not even have a consistent brand logo. Starting in 1991, Mauricio Marching, the newly-appointed advertising director, developed a global branding campaign in-house with the help of Paradises, a Swedish advertising agency. The campaign appropriated the “products make better living” theme popular among advertisers in the ass and turned it on its readers was to be interpreted ironically; the standard promise of “success” was exaggerated, made absurd, even mocked.
Serious themes seemed to be lurking everywhere in the adverts but were undercut by a final admission that it was all Just a Joke. Diesel advertising campaigns were artistic, colorful and sexy-?as fashion advertising often is-?but they were clearly differentiated by their themes, complexity and radical irony. The ads were not only visually shocking, they clearly established Diesel as a counterpoint to established norms and institutions. Diesel ads were often confusing, moieties intriguing and, as a result, highly exclusive. They required wit and involvement to be deciphered.
Many were left perplexed or failed to see the underlying irony. The few who understood Diesel’s sense of humor could feel a real sense of complicity between them and the brand. Thankfully for Diesel, many of these were wealthy teenagers looking for clothes that would stand out and distinguish them from the crowd. For example, several ads mocked the core promise that Jeans make you look good and help to seduce members of the opposite sex (see Exhibit 2). Another good example was the “How to be quickest on the draw’ optoelectronic guide.
In this parody of a Western movie, the handsome hero wearing Diesel Jeans is shot by the bad guy dressed in nondescript pants. The final scene ends with a loud laugh from the bad guy and the words “Diesel, for Successful Living. ” Over time, the sarcasm became directed at Diesel itself. For example, although the excellent quality of its denim is very important to Reno Ross, one ad made fun of the durability and high quality of Diesel fabrics (derided as “Super Denim” in the “how to be a fashion entrepreneur” optoelectronic guide).
In subsequent ads Diesel even made fun of its own weird advertising; one particular television commercial (“How to keep clothes brighter”) advertised a Diesel laundry detergent entirely in nonsensical Japanese (without subtitles, of course). The ad prompted a worried phone call from Procter & Gamble enquiring about Diesel’s intentions in the detergent market. Ted Polishes, an expert in pop and youth cultures, described Diesel advertising in the following terms(see examples in Exhibit 3): 2 “Having shown a healthy disdain for political correctness, Diesel has also gone on to spit in the eye of ‘good taste’.
In magazines which typically feature only beautiful people doing beautiful things, their images of pigs feasting on a pig laid out on an ornate dining table, excessively pumped-up body builders, wrinkled geriatric sun- worshippers, gold-painted old men in skimpy bathing suits, magnified slices of raw meat, and leering, obviously psychopathic dentists in sunglasses, all stand out to say the least. But as shocking as Diesel advertisements can be, they more often than not point of social concern or, simply but effectively, by causing us to ponder the meaning of life.
No other clothing company would appear to offer such philosophical discourse. 2 Sometimes, Diesel’s ironic and tacky advertising caused resentment among the general public and triggered a response from public authorities. For example, number 15 in Diesel’s ‘Successful Living advertisement series, ‘Make my way (see Exhibit 4), reads: “How to teach your children to love and care: MODERN CHILDREN need to SOLVE their OWN problems: teaching kids to KILL helps them deal directly with reality – but they learn SO much quicker when you give them a guiding hand! Make them proud and confident!
Man, if they never learn to blast the brains out of their neighbors what kind of damn FUTURE has this country of ours got??? ” After the advertisement was launched in the USA, letters of protest poured into Diesel offices and irate picketers protested outside Bloodiness’s, the exclusive outlet for Diesel products at that time. Reno Ross commented: “Our ironic tone sometimes initially shocks consumers. We often present what appears to be outrageously inappropriate messages-?confusing references to such things as racial, sexual stereotypes, materialism, drug abuse, religious intolerance and political extremism.
The viewer needs to think a bit in order to understand what our intention really is. But once they have taken the time, the viewer of a Diesel ad usually picks up on a hidden order behind the work, a meaning that is less an insensitive, subjective statement and more a balanced observation of the realities of the world we share. “3 Non-media Communication The Diesel style was also evident in other forms of communication. Great attention was given to product placement among actors, musicians and celebrities (although Diesel never paid the stars and almost never gave away the products to them).
Diesel garments featured in many popular and independent movies such as “Godzilla”, “Lethal Weapon”, “Crime and Punishment in High School”, or “Anywhere But Here”. Diesel was one of the first clothing companies on the Internet, opening the www. Diesel. Com site in 1995. The site contained information about Diesel clothing collections and its licenses, 3 Ted Polishes, “Diesel World Wide Wear”, 1998. From Ted Polishes, “Diesel World Wide Wear”, 1998. Complete archive of its advertising, extensive coverage of C)-Diesel’s seasonal In 1994, Diesel built The Pelican Hotel in South Beach, Miami, which was to become a vivid manifestation of the Diesel philosophy. All 25 rooms in the hotel were designed and decorated to feel like surreal movie sets: each filled with recycled furniture and named after its own style, e. G. The Psychedelic room, Halfway to Hollywood and Me Tarzan (see Exhibit 5). The hotel became a hit with the fashion, music and publishing set. Celebrities such as Cindy Crawford, Grace Jones, Yoke Non and John F.
Kennedy Jar. Stayed there. Diesel participated in the production of video games for Sony Pollination, Nintendo and personal computers. It contributed the Diesel for Successful Living logo and other creative content to new video game releases, such as Synopsis’ hits “G-Police I & II”, Acclaims “Shadow Man” and “Extreme G II”. Diesel Brand Portfolio Before the introduction of Stellar in 1998, the brand portfolio of Diesel SPA consisted of three main product lines: D-Diesel (including licenses), Diesel Kids and DSSSL (The brands and some of their logos are shown in Exhibit 6).
Most of its production was outsourced to small and medium-sized companies, whereas design and marketing remained in-house. C)-Diesel C)-Diesel was the core business line and an original master brand of Diesel SPA. It focused mainly on denim “5 pockets” (traditional Jeans), “bottoms” (denim pants and skirts) and “tops” Jackets and shirts) for men and women. Still, denim items presented only about 30% of the D-Diesel collection. The brand offered its customers an innovative and wide range of denim and leisure clothes which expressed the unconditioned creativity of the brand (see Exhibit 8).
The products were characterized by very high quality and durability. In 1998 the C)-Diesel line replaced the initial slogan “Diesel Jeans and Workweek” with the “Diesel for Successful Living” and the “D” logos. D-Diesel Licenses Pursuing the idea of offering its customers a total look, the D-Diesel brand was extended to a large number of fashion products beyond clothing: Diesel Shades for year, Diesel Spare Parts for luggage and leather goods, Diesel Fragrances (featuring two different scents, Diesel Plus Plus and Zero Plus), Diesel Footwear, Diesel Underwear, Diesel Time Frames for watches and Diesel Writing Tools.
Diesel Kids The Diesel Kids line was targeted at kids who did not want to be treated like kids. It offered ‘gutsy clothing with bright colors and modern lines for young people of a ‘gutsy generation. 4 DSSSL inspired by a sense of adventure and freedom”. The clothing was aimed at extreme action sports fanatics. The collection was full of surprisingly fresh color combinations ND prints in innovative and contemporary styles. Extending Up-market The clothing industry in the mid and late asses experienced increasing market segmentation.
In particular, some consumers were now willing to spend large amounts of money not only on smart clothes but also on casual wear. Being a good trend spotter, Reno Ross quickly identified a new market opportunity in high casual wear. He observed the increasing appeal of casual clothing, both in the workplace and during leisure time. Even bastions of formal business attire such as investment banks and consulting companies were starting to allow their employees to relax in hakes and polo shirts on “casual Fridays”. To be trendy started to mean to be dynamic, lively, mobile and casual.
Reno Ross decided to seize the opportunities in high casual wear with a new line, Stellar. His decision was almost entirely based on gut feeling as he simply did not believe in market research for predicting future fashion trends. Nevertheless, he knew that the prospects for a profitable market in high casual wear were unsure. Diesel would have to go a long way to convince enough consumers to spend $1 50 on a pair of casual pants. Another objective assigned to Stellar was to counterbalance he increased diffusion of the D-Diesel denim products and to prevent any possible commoditized of the brand.
This concern was particularly strong because the advertising campaign for Diesel in 1998 emphasized denim and product attributes such as the availability of different fits, the softness and strength of the fabric, etc. ). Of course, these functional qualities were communicated the Diesel way (see Exhibit 7 for the advertising campaign and Exhibit 8 for examples of the Spring/Summer 1998 collection). There was also a concern that the multiple horizontal extensions of C)-Diesel could dilute its identity. More importantly, the management team was concerned that Diesel would suffer from its success.
In particular, that too high a diffusion would erode the exclusive and unconventional image of the brand. In Germany, for example, there were concerns that C)-Diesel had started to loose its edgy, rebellious appeal because of its success with older consumers. There was indeed a growing gap between the irreverent image communicated by its advertising and the image reflected by the somewhat conservative, 35-year old, BMW-driving professionals wearing Diesel Jeans. Reno Ross also thought that Stellar would alp manage Diesel’s most important asset: its designers.
Diesel viewed creativity as a critical investment and paid a lot of attention to its designers. Unlike other fashion houses, Diesel’s designers seldom attended the catwalks of competitors. Instead, the company financed “research trips” lasting up to six months per year, during which designers photographed and bought everything that could inspire a new collection. If they felt that their creativity was being constrained by the relatively mainstream positioning of the D-Diesel line, Astrolabe’s narrower targeting would allow them to unleash their creativity and experiment with new styles and fabrics.
Indeed, the Stellar name originated from the idea of creating a laboratory in which designers 5 ideas. Diesel was hoping that some of these new ideas would eventually find their way into the main D-Diesel line. Robert Leonardo, Stellar category manager, summarized the three main reasons for launching the Stellar brand: 1. To enter the new and attractive market of high casual wear. 2. To create an aura of prestige and fashion around the D-Diesel brand. 3. To give Diesel designers an opportunity to experiment with new fabrics and cuts. Stellar vs..
C)-Diesel With the planned introduction of the Stellar collection, Diesel was effectively moving market. The fashion industry was loaded with examples of downward brand extensions: Giorgio Airman and Emporium Airman, Dolce & Cabana and D&G, Donna Koran and DENY. Upward brand extensions were rare but nevertheless existed. For example, during the asses the Ralph Lauren brand was vertically extended into the premium end of the women’s fashion market with the creation of the Ralph Lauren Collection brand. Diesel’s upward extension was a bold move.
In particular, it was critical to delicately balance the relationship between the C)-Diesel aster brand and the Stellar brand. In order to achieve the objectives set for Stellar both lines had to be clearly differentiated while retaining a common link with Diesel’s core identity. Product Stellar offered wearable clothing from “a laboratory of surprising styles” for customers attracted more by innovation itself than by the diktats of fashion. Compared with D-Diesel it was more exclusive, more refined, more expensive and, above all, more innovative in its use of design and materials (see Exhibits 9 and 10).