This Gorgeous Ad From Diesel Is Packed With Flaws, and It Regrets Nothing

Who needs perfection?

Headshot of Angela Natividad

There’s a gritty, glamorous, give-no-fucks beauty about not only being imperfect … but flaunting it with abandon. That’s the refreshing message behind “Go With the Flaw,” a short film created by Publicis Italia for Diesel.

You’ve got sweaty bodies, incomplete roads, roughed-up cars, poorly cut film. And amid all that, there’s a menagerie of weird human beauty—freckled bodies with faded tattoos, braces, unibrows with a hint of lady ‘stache (à la Frida), spasmodic movement, cross-eyed women.

It’s all framed in a world that perhaps suits the times—corroded, crumbling, riddled with poverty. And the person Scotch-taping every last scene into place has a surprising flaw of his own.

As kids, we read a book about how to be perfect. It served as both a guide and a story about the protagonist who followed its instructions—dare we say it?—perfectly. At the end, she makes a terrible discovery. The best way to maintain her newfound perfection is to sit silently in an empty movie theater, drinking weak tea.

Yet it’s the pursuit of perfection that drives so much of the advertising in high fashion, even when it’s trying to be quirky. Kenzo’s Spike Jonze-directed ad, which won rightful accolades, featured a woman spasmodically dancing out of her figurative corset, but she’s still model-caliber beautiful (and lily-white). Harper’s Bazaar’s charming parable of two women sparring for affection—and a Chanel handbag—follows the same mold: It’s relatable, sure. But those women still look nothing like the world they’re play-acting in.

In contrast, “Go With the Flaw” is the story of a half-blind editor making his first film, composed of the world he’s in. Its swaggering lack of glamour ironically gives it some.

It’s set to Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” (“No, I Regret Nothing”), an anthem from a woman who herself was imperfect—mixed-race, too short, briefly blind and raised in a brothel. She sang on the street to make money to eat, and was hopelessly belligerent long after fame springboarded her into the annals of renown.

She was a person of her time, and the shadow she cast will last far longer than commercial beauty can ever hope to.

The film ends with Diesel’s longtime tagline: “For successful living.” There’s always been an ironic rebelliousness in how the brand’s chosen to interpret that cheeky phrase. Last year it tackled the absurdity of online poserishness, and this year—in cheeky response to Trump’s call for a border wall—it released “Make Love Not Walls,” directed by David LaChappelle.

And while this remains pretty work from a pricey brand that sells jeans, for chrissakes, the message it’s peddling plunges deeper than exhorting viewers to walk their own rebel walk. It goes further still than asking us to embrace our flaws, because how many times have we ignored that message?

Instead we’re told something we already know: The world we’re in is imperfect. Yet we live in cultures that demand we improve it, not by curing cancer or anything, but by making ourselves perfect—whether that’s following the rules, finding a nice occupation, being agreeable or masking your uniqueness under a slick patina.

Want to live successfully? Be prickly. Be the person who makes other people uncomfortable. Be listless, be aimless, be sweaty, be hairy, be ugly, exist. 

Maybe then you can make something that says something true. Whatever the result, you’ll have nothing to regret. Therein lies success.

Client: Diesel
Chief Marketing Officer: Dario Gargiulo
Creative Director: Nicola Formichetti
Global Head of Advertising, Media & Product Marketing: Giada Gheno
Head of ADV and E-comm Production: Deborah Salbego
Agency: Publicis Italia
Global Chief Creative Officer Publicis WW and CEO Publicis Italia: Bruno Bertelli
Executive Creative Director: Cristiana Boccassini
Creative Directors: Milos Obradovic, Mihnea Gheorghiu
Creative Supervisor: Costanza Rossi
Art Directors: Simone Di Laus, Cecilia Moro
Copywriters: Beatrice Mari, Fabio Caputi
Head of Planning: Bela Zieman
Senior Creative Planner: Noa Dekel
Account Team: Giada Salerno, Maria Elena Gaglianese
Agency Producers: Cecilia Barberis, Matilde Bonanni
Art Buyer: Barbara Centazzo
Production Company: Division Paris
Director: Francois Rousselet
DOP: Simon Chaudoir
Editor: Nicolas Larrouquere
Producer: Jules De Chateleux

VFX Supervisor: Timo Huber
VFX Producer: Lydia Evitt
Grade: MPC
Colourist: Richard Fearon

Music Design and Editing: Grand Central
Photographer: Tom Sloan @Lalaland Artists
Post Production: Studio Invisible

Stylist: Davey Sutton

@luckthelady 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.