Diadora: Soccer Too Hot to Handle

Hammerquist Print Ads Go to Goal With Mock Censorship Theme
LOS ANGELES–Soccer may be the beautiful game, but Italian soccer is more of a stylish, high-flying blood sport that Americans are just too thin-skinned to handle.
Such is the reverse psychology humorously employed by Hammerquist & Halverson in its latest efforts to promote Italian-made Diadora soccer shoes and apparel in the U.S. market.
Of the five new print spreads breaking this month in enthusiast titles, three are image executions featuring action shots of players, while the other two promote specific lines of cleats. All of the ads are plastered with mock censorship stickers and stamps, comically suggesting Diadora’s products are practically pornographic in their ability to shock.
“You can’t handle it!” screams one ad featuring Inter Milan’s Roberto Baggio. “Moves too raw. Too explicit. Too Italian for your weak American eyes.” Copy lauds the World Cup ’94 star for being “just plain nasty as he makes his defender cry like a small school girl. It’s filthy.”
“Diadora wanted to come out kicking and screaming,” said Ian Cohen, a copywriter at the Seattle agency. “We’ve branded them through their Italian heritage in the past, but we wanted to liven it up, and be younger and fresher.”
The two product-focused ads develop the same rabid tone, but through a smuggling theme. One shows a pried-open crate stuffed with the company’s “explosive” Tech 2000 boots (“can blow a defender off the pitch”); the other a collection of Diadora Brasils wrapped in coffee grounds like some sort of drug cargo (“dogs caught the scent of kangaroo leather and started yelping their heads off”).
The edgier creative includes a new tagline, with the earlier “Soccer. Made in Italy,” streamlined to “Straight from Italy.”
Diadora continues to mainly target males 16-24, but the new ads make better use of the company’s small ad budget, according to Stephanie Nelson, director of marketing for apparel at Diadora America, Kent, Wash. “A couple of the ads are really tongue-in-cheek. We’ve had a great response … and haven’t had anyone approach us negatively about them,” she said.