​why you'll soon be seeing diesel ads on grindr, tinder and pornhub

We spoke with Nicola Formichetti about why Diesel’s spring/summer 16 campaign is set to appear where you least expect it.

by i-D Staff and Steve Salter
12 January 2016, 12:30am

"I wanted to dissect the idea of digital culture," Diesel's artistic director Nicola Formichetti begins as he reaches for his iPad. "We're all obsessed, we're crazy in love and hate with social media and I just wanted to do something that was fun," he adds with a giggle before pressing play on a Sang Woo cyber flirting video. From #DieselReboot to casting campaigns on Instagram, from collaborating with Doug Abraham to employing You Doodle and Glitch, Formichetti's Diesel not only daydreams in digital, it does digital. Buoyed by the success of recent campaigns, spring/summer 16 is arguably its most ambitious to date. Breaking beyond billboards, no part of your browsing experience will be safe from Diesel's smile inducing #slogans, Insta friendly clips and custom emojis.

"Our worlds, online and offline, are completely merged and I always want to reflect the world we live in, that's how I approach Diesel," Formichetti says. We're a global brand and we need to talk to so many people, so we need to have that clear message, but it should never just be about selling products. From race to body shapes, I want to celebrate difference and uniqueness while reflecting what's happening in the world. I want to create a Diesel world in which everyone can be their true selves. Freedom is our flavor." 

Once again, the latest cast continues the Diesel DNA of bringing together different cultures, personalities and individuals that Formichetti finds online. Diesel family favorites Kiko Mizuhara, Sara Cummings and Sang Woo Kim are joined by Trevor Signorino, Stav Strashko, Grace Mahary and Formichetti's latest obsessions, Joe Jonas and DNCE. Each play a tongue-firmly-in-cheek role in this exploration of how we live online and Diesel isn't afraid of laughing at itself, either. Alongside Joe Jonas and Kiko Mizuhara's nonchalant embrace, a caption reads, "We have more followers than @diesel." 

Formichetti is fluent in the language of now, and more than clothes or diversity, this campaign both celebrates and pokes fun at how we eat, sleep and dream with phones in our hands. There's an honesty throughout, from selfies to shopping addictions, social celebrity to #slogans and complicated relationship statuses. Little is safe from Diesel's scrolling eye and developing language.

"We created our own emoji, using the outfits from the campaign and we're planning on creating more and more throughout the season. Only Diesel could do this," he adds, not for the last time in our chat. It's true. Kim Kardashian might have Kimoji but can you imagine another fashion house choosing to converse in emoji? "It's our new language. We have to show this campaign globally and emoji is a universal language, it's funny across the globe. From the emojis to spelling and grammar, we tried to converse in today's language. Most people struggle to relate to advertising copy, but not this."

Months after the Face with Tears of Joy emoji was officially crowned the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, it's difficult to argue against Formichetti's reasonings. Emojis have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, one which can cross language barriers. Of course they've been around since the 90s, but they are no longer the preserve of forum fanatics and texting teens; they are for everyone.

What else unites us today? Porn. Where will much of this campaign be consumed? On your favorite url. "We're a sexy brand," Formichetti explains. "To support the launch of our underwear line, we're going to be the first brand to ever advertise on Grindr and we're the first fashion brand to be working with Pornhub, too. The message is simple: before you jerk off look at this," he adds with a laugh. Look beyond the the nudge, winks, laughter and hype and this makes a great deal of business sense. "The numbers are crazy. Of course it's fun, but it guarantees eyeballs." 

Pornhub is currently the 64th most popular site globally while YouPorn is ranked 172nd. There's power in porn. "Of course, this won't replace traditional placements on billboards and in magazines, but it's an extension," Formichetti explains. "This is where people are now, we live on our phones. I want to go where people are. Tinder, Grindr and Pornhub might appear a little left field but it's Diesel, we can do it. We're not scared of these places, we're not high fashion. We are street."

"Inside fashion, people think I'm quite forward with digital and social, but I'm not," he continues. "I love it and I'm a user, but I'm not an authority. I've just always enjoyed using the tools around me and immersing myself in digital culture. When I went to SXSW last year, I left realizing that I knew nothing. It's so exciting. There are so many things we can do." With Formichetti at the helm, you wouldn't bet against Diesel being the first to try. In the meantime, you'll no doubt be seeing a lot of this campaign -- even when your pants are down.


Text Steve Salter

fashion interviews
spring/summer 16