Diesel’s New Ad Celebrating Flaws Has Great Storytelling That Flies Off in All Directions

If only it didn't have one big flaw itself

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Last fall, Diesel gave us “Go With the Flaw,” a gritty, glamorous celebration of ugliness, created by Publicis Italy and directed by François Rousselet.

Now, the second installation of the campaign, “Keep the World Flawed” (also directed by Rousselet), leans hard into the subject matter. Think of the first ad as a manifesto. This new piece takes it further, illustrating just how hopeless it is to hide your flaws in the first place.

Remember that ad-turned-fake-news-meme about a woman who supposedly had so much plastic surgery that, when all of the flaws came out in her children, her husband sued?

“Keep the World Flawed” tugs on our collective memory of that bizarre drama, which ultimately ruined the reputation of the model who appeared in the ad. Here, though, the fault goes two ways: When “Keep the World Flawed” opens, an insecurity-crippled man gets surgery to pin back his “elephant ears” (a surprisingly common procedure).

He falls in love at a laundromat, and what follows is a classic Levi’s-style progression of young, lusty love blooming into pregnancy and progeny, at which point we discover the woman’s had an operation of her own. (Rhinoplasty! Fun fact: You can learn how to perform these online. The tutorials make it seem very easy.)

It ends with the happy family walking off into the sunset, and closes on their son, his strong little face framed by adult-sized ears and a prominent nose. “Flaws always win,” the copy triumphantly concludes.

The work promotes Diesel’s 2018 Spring Summer Collection, which people are encouraged to clash and contrast in grungy ’90s style, an ambiance that can be felt throughout the production.

And its celebration of flaws goes deeper than the storytelling and into its smaller details, too: It’s packed with Easter eggs. When the guy is pushing his change into the laundry machine, a sticker that reads @wantedsocks drives users to an Instagram account that encourages mismatched pairings.

Bluffet, the fictitious restaurant where the pair share their first super-sloppy kiss, has its own website. Taglined “Fuel for the flawed,” and created alongside BuzzFeed’s Tasty, it promotes three video recipes for fueling “flawed” behavior. These include a hangover cure that’ll make your heart clench, and two others that haven’t yet been posted—one for sleeping in; another for the munchies.

Lastly, layover.it—a sticker you can see in the woman’s pre-rhinoplasty flashback—drives people to a fake travel agency website, where people can search and book actual flights with a stunning number of layovers (the better to appreciate many trips in one).

Paris to San Francisco, a trip that takes about 11 hours, is extended to over a day and a half on layover.it … with long, cozy stops in Stockholm and London. Round-trip, it’d cost just $700, which is actually, and utterly without irony, an amazing offer worth sharing.

The ad tacitly promises more such “flawed stories” to come.

What’s great about the campaign thus far is that Diesel didn’t stop at just telling us to love our uglies a little harder (a moral that’s easy to repeat but hard to live). It’s instead paving the way for an ongoing celebration of them, studded with goofy (but impressively actionable) ways to help you assume an uncharted life with the zeal of a true believer.

We’re into it. It’s anarchic and galvanizing.

Our only major critique would be the campaign videos’ almost stunning lack of ethnic diversity among key characters. Some vague acknowledgement of cultural variation always exists among people in the background, but in our mixed and modern times, even this is beginning to feel like an affront. Italy itself counts nearly 10 percent foreign residents, not counting those who’ve acquired nationality or who are undocumented.

Nowhere is the country’s diversity more visible than in its major cities, but that doesn’t make it anomalous elsewhere. Consider Benetton’s current campaign, which touches upon precisely this subject.

So while we get that default whiteness contributes to a certain ’90s media aesthetic, we hasten to remind Diesel that these campaigns are global … and that multiculturalism existed in the ’90s, too, even if it got less play.

Come on, guys. Do we still have to talk about this?

Video Campaign
Director: François Rousselet

Visual Campaign
Photographer: Florence & Nicholas
Agency: Publicis Italy

@luckthelady angela.natividad@gmail.com Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.