Is the Diesel Brand Running on Fumes?

Well the Doc opened the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

I saw this full-page ad in Thursday’s New York Times:

Picture 1

You have the control?

What are you going to do with it?


What’s going on here, Doc?

– Low Octane

Dear Low Octane,

What’s going on is a reinvention of Diesel’s brand image with a social-media twist. As blogger Nik Thakkar writes on Karl Is My Uncle:

Diesel Reboot, or aptly tagged #DIESELREBOOT is being described as the inception stage in the full blown diesel-rebootreinvention of the Diesel brand. It’s essentially a digitally based community (on Tumblr) where [new artistic director Nicola] Formichetti is enlisting a new generation of brand ambassadors to submit imagery, inspiration, ideas and art to help create a new set of iconography for the brand. It feels fresh, for the brand at least, but the concept itself is basically a simple crowd-sourcing and idea generation campaign.

(It says something about the state of the media that a mainstream vehicle like the Times is used to promote a digitally based community.)

profile of Diesel mogul Renzo Rosso in Forbes magazine noted several months ago, “Rosso has spent the last decade snapping up majority stakes in small, prestigious fashion houses all across Europe: Paris-based Maison Martin Margiela, Amsterdam’s Viktor & Rolf and, this past December, Milanese label Marni.” But he lost out on a bid for Italian couture house Valentino “to an investment vehicle backed by Qatar’s royal family, who reportedly paid around $860 million.”

Money graf:

He’s aware that to compete with Qatari money, not to mention fashion’s two French kingpins–LVMH and PPR –he may have to consider a public offering to fuel further acquisitions. He’s just not sure if that’s what he wants. “The size of the group is quite nice,” he says, before pausing. “Never say never.”

So it’s very likely that the New York Times ad is not just a call for imagery, inspiration, ideas, and art. It’s also a shoutout to Wall Street.


What’s Up with the ‘Heroic Media’ Anti-Abortion Ad?

Well the Doc opened the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out:

Dear Dr. Ads,

I recently saw this Wall Street Journal ad from an outfit called Heroic Media.


The website’s Frequently Asked Questions section says this about the group’s funding:

Our primary source of income is from individual donors. We also receive support from churches, organizations and foundations. We do not receive income from government sources.

No kidding.

What’s the scoop on this campaign?

– 19 Weeks

Dear 19 Weeks,

Funny you should ask, because the Wall Street Journal is one of the only mainstream media outlets to run the ad.

From the Christian Broadcast Network:

Media Outlets Reject Controversial Pro-life Ad

Three major U.S. newspapers are refusing to run a pro-life ad, calling it too controversial.

The ad by Heroic Media features a hand holding a 20 to 24-week-old pre-born baby.

Above the baby is a quote saying, “This child has no voice, which is why it depends on yours, speak up.” reported that The Chicago Tribune , USA Today, and Los Angeles Timessaid they feel the image of the baby is “controversial.”

The controversy stems from the ad not specifying “whether the child was alive or dead,” according to World Magazine.

Here’s a Heroic Media spokeswoman discussing the controversy:


The Chicago Tribune subsequently accepted an alternative ad with a different image (via Jill Stanek at LifeSiteNews):



Okay then, yeah?


What’s Up with the News Corpse – Er, News Corp – Ad?

Well the Doc opened the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

Rupert Murdoch has just split his News Corp empire in two: 21st Century Fox, the entertainment division, and the new News Corp print/publishing division. Wall Street sort of loves it, the New York Post really hates it, but most important – what do you think?

– Pieface

Dear Pieface:

Well you’ve certainly come to the right place to find out what I think. But before we get to that, let’s take your other points in order.

First, the News Corp empire is indeed split, as was officially announced in a two-page newspaper ad this week. Here it is from Monday’s New York Times (must’ve killed Murdoch to fork over major six figures to his arch-nemesis, eh?):

Picture 7


So there you have it – print and publishing on the left, complete with a new News Corp logo; entertainment on the right, complete with the updated 21st Century Fox name.

(Also new: Murdoch’s beleaguered News International has been rebranded as News UK. As Mark Borkowski wrote in The Guardian, “[a]t News Corp we are now witnessing a methodical detoxification of the brand, to allow it to function at its best once again.”)

As for Wall Street . . . well, this Reuters headline says it all:

A sign is seen outside News Corporation building in New YorkFree of newspapers, 21st Century Fox shines

(Reuters) – Wall Street rewarded Rupert Murdoch’s move to create a separate entertainment company, giving 21st Century Fox one of the richest valuations in the media sector on its first day of trading.

Investors had waited for Murdoch to split News Corp, giving its cable, movie and equity stakes in pay-TV assets their own spotlight away from the publishing division.

In the first day of trading as separate entities, “[s]hares in the new 21st Century Fox entertainment operation gained over 2 percent on Monday, or $1.1 billion dollars in market value, from its opening price.”

Shares of News Corp, meanwhile, fell 3 percent.

That’s reason number one the New York Post hates the split.  Reason number two is that the tabloid will have to survive on its own without the entertainment division floating its clockwork annual losses, variously estimated at anywhere between $15 million and $110 million.

Finally, what does the old Doc think about all this?

Well, it’s possible the Murdoch just fell out of love with the print side of his medialith (just jettisoned wife #3 Wendi Deng knows the feeling).

It’s also possible that family and financial advisers finally prevailed upon Murdoch to kick the papers out of the nest to see which ones fly.

That sound you hear is the Post, flapping its arms frantically.


What’s Up with the New Apple Ads?

Well the Doc opened the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

Apple has always run breakthrough ads promoting its breakthrough products. But we think its latest campaign is kind of  . . . meh.

What do you think?

– Adam and Eve

Dear Adam and Eve,

The new Apple ads have, as the saying goes, fallen pretty far from the tree, yeah?

A little history is in order here.

In the beginning, there was the 1984 ad that ran during that year’s Super Bowl broadcast. (Yeah yeah – the Doc does know there were Apple ads before that one, including this 1983 spot featuring Kevin Costner. D’you know that?)


That spot launched the Super Bowl Adstravaganza – one-off commercials designed mostly to profit from the promopalooza around the Big Game.

After that came a variety of other campaigns, most notably the Mac and PC series. Representative samples:


Same themes as the 1984 ad, right? Apple gives you freedom, individuality, personality, uniqueness.

Accent on the you.

Now consider the current Apple campaign. Here’s one of a series of double-trucks running in newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and today’s Boston Globe:

Picture 2


Body copy:

This is it.

This is what matters.

The experience of a product.

How it makes someone feel.

When you start by imagining

What that might be like,

You step back.

You think . .  .


And yack yack yack.

Oh, yeah – here’s the companion TV spot, titled “Our Signature”:


What’s wrong with this picture (tube)?

It’s all about them – all we we we. Just like the last graf of the print ad: “We’re engineers and artists. Craftsmen and inventors. We sign our work. You may rarely look at it. But you’ll always feel it. This is our signature. And it means everything.”

And all this time we thought the customer meant everything.

Plus, Designed by Apple in California? Is that supposed to make us forget the Third World manufacturing that produces this stuff?

Apple used to be the most sure-footed of marketers. But this is a major stumble.