Counterfeit culture is destructive to brands, but we used it to our advantage by channeling Diesel’s subversive DNA, and created the knock-off brand, “DEISEL”. We secretly launched the brand as a knock-off store in NYC’s counterfeit district and captured the reactions of shoppers in a video. Then, for New York Fashion Week, we let the secret out through our social video with a captivating call to action inviting everyone to the store to get their hands on these rare pieces. Using this response-driven momentum, DEISEL launched globally on Diesel.com, selling out within hours.
The annual traffic of counterfeit goods in the fashion industry is worth $461 billion. So, we decided to come up with an idea that would help Diesel turn this business threat into a business opportunity. The objective would be to create a response-driven direct idea that would target a savvy millennial audience, but also something that would give fresh energy to the Diesel brand and re-establish it as the icon of brave and subversive fashion.
Describe the creative idea
As a response to counterfeit culture in the fashion industry, we created Diesel's own knock-off brand, “DEISEL”. To launch it, we opened up its own authentic knock-off store in New York City's counterfeit district. At the store, unsuspecting shoppers were able to get real Diesel pieces, disguised as DEISEL, for knock-off prices. Then, during New York Fashion Week, we let the secret out through global influencers, social media and fashion publications, bringing fashion week to the most unfashionable place in NYC. To help achieve this, we also sent out a video with an enticing call to action that would get people excited about getting their own DEISEL pieces. We then launched DEISEL online for the whole world to get their own limited-edition DEISEL pieces while they lasted.
Describe the strategy
The strategy was to confront counterfeit culture head-on through an authentic knock-off brand experience that reached a savvy millennial audience, ultimately rejuvenating Diesel and reinstating it as the infamously brave and subversive fashion icon.
Describe the execution
First, we subverted Diesel’s classic logo with a slight misspelling to look like a real knock-off. We then rented a store in the heart of NYC’s counterfeit district. For authenticity, we designed it to look cluttered and we hired two actors to perform as suspicious shopkeepers. The store opened secretly for the first week. Those brave enough to shop there during this time bought real Diesel pieces, disguised as DEISEL, for knock-off prices. The second week was the big reveal during New York Fashion Week. Full price this time. First, we teased the idea through Instagram Stories and celebrity influencers, then we let the secret out through multiple social media channels, more influencers, major fashion publications and culture blogs, attracting thousands of people. The store sold out in one day one. Then we launched the brand globally on Diesel.com, which sold out within hours.
List the results
Within a single week, the DEISEL experience generated 400 million global media impressions and 55 million social impressions. The buzz got so big, that within several days, people even started making fakes of our fakes and selling them online. The DEISEL store sold out in 24 hours, and when the collection went on Diesel.com, it sold out within several hours, 3 times in a row. THE NEW YORK TIMES wrote, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, the logic runs: Make the fakes, pocket the cash.” VOGUE called it, “The ultimate brand strengthening exercise”.CAMPAIGN wrote, “Diesel has bulldozed its way back onto the fashion scene.”HYPEBEAST wrote, “Diesel leaned headfirst into the winds of counterfeit culture and launched its own knock-off collection.”WOMEN’S WEAR DAILY wrote, “Operating in the same style as its Canal St. neighbors, the store’s interiors and selling experience played out authentically.”