Gucci wants the kids, and the grownups, to know it’s hip.
For its latest campaign, the luxury fashion house has commissioned a number of memes for Instagram around the theme “#TFW Gucci” or “That Feeling When Gucci”—playing on the popular internet art form to promote a new line of wristwatches.
“When you got that new watch and you have to show it off,” reads one caption on a photo featuring a man’s arm, with a hole torn in the wrist of his suit and dress shirt to show the timepiece underneath.
“When he buys you flowers instead of a Gucci watch,” reads a second, featuring a deadpan 16th century portrait of the Spanish noblewoman Eleanora di Toledo.
“Watchdog,” reads a third, featuring a dog’s leg, wearing, naturally, a watch.
Those pieces, created by photography team @meatwreck (née Mitra Saboury and Derek Paul Boyle), designer @williamcult (William Ndatila) and documentarian @littlebrownmushroom (Alec Soth), are just a handful of many from a variety of internet artists, housed on a website for the Gucci campaign.
The landing page of the #TFWGucci microsite also offers a brief history of memes, for those too old or oblivious to understand them intuitively (generally speaking, they are striking images or animations paired with clever or revealing text, shared online, where others can riff on them, as a form of common expression—a sort of digital high five or fist bump proliferated through visually driven social media sites like Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram).
As other observers have pointed out, the brand’s explainer is both amusing and necessary. Given the high cost of Gucci’s products—one of the Le Marché des Merveilles watches costs about $790—it’s unlikely many but the most well-to-do youngsters are likely to spring for its products, while more aged and wealthy consumers might find themselves scratching their heads at ads that range from goofy and irreverent to garish.
The net result is a curated collection of pieces that feel like an online gallery show, complete with blurbs for each work. While that might seem like a stuffy attempt to bridge two worlds, the truth is, it makes for pretty entertaining browsing—thanks largely to the different perspectives of the talents on display. Even though they’re shamelessly hawking an entirely unnecessary expense, they’re also self-deprecating, timely (groan), and most important, human—i.e., delightfully and honestly absurd.
Just take the one from Italian artist @flamigram (Flaminia Veronesi) featuring a hand gently touching the face of a sculpture, with the caption, “When you wake up late for work and realize you’re actually a clay head.”