Diesel for Successful Living:
Branding Strategies for an Up-market Line Extension in the Fashion Industry
This case was the overall winner of the 2007 European Case Clearing House Awards This case received the 2006 European Case Clearing House Award in the category “Marketing”
01/2008-4948 This case was written by Vadim Grigorian (INSEAD MBA 2000) and Pierre Chandon, Assistant Professor of Marketing at INSEAD, as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. We thank Maurizio Marchiori, Antonella Viero, and Giovanni Pungetti from Diesel SpA for their help and support. Copyright © 2004 INSEAD
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Three options were under consideration: sub-branding (e.g., DieselStyleLab), endorsement (e.g., StyleLab by Diesel), or independence (StyleLab with no reference to Diesel). Which option should he choose? And how should he implement the new branding strategy to achieve the objectives assigned to StyleLab?
The Diesel story is inextricably linked with the story of Renzo Rosso. Son of farming parents, he studied textiles and manufacturing in Padua and started working for Adriano Goldschmied, known as “the pioneer of Italian casual wear”. In 1978, Goldschmied and Rosso founded a company called Diesel. The name was chosen by Goldschmied “because it’s one of the few words pronounced the same in every language”.1 From the very beginning they viewed the world as a single macro culture for which the company created one product and communicated it in one language: English. In 1985 Rosso bought out Goldschmied and started to turn the Diesel brand from a simple jeans label into a major fashion brand, winning many advertising industry awards including ‘Advertiser of the Year’ at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998 for its “For Successful Living” campaign. That same year, FHM and Menswear, the UK’s most influential fashion magazines for men, voted Diesel ‘Fashion Brand of the Year’. Based in the tiny village of Molvena in Northern Italy, Diesel employed more than 1,000 people worldwide. Its products were available in more than 50 countries, through 10,000 independent retailers and 40 company-owned stores, including flagship outlets on New York’s Lexington Avenue and London’s Covent Garden. In 1997 its consolidated annual turnover amounted to 503 billion lire (€260 million), 85% of which was generated outside Italy.
Financial Times, August 20, 1998.
Copyright © 2004 INSEAD
The Diesel Way
Diesel’s design, advertising and management style embodied a love of humour, creativity and irreverence towards established rules. Rosso (‘Renzo’ to almost everybody in the company) personally selected about 90% of his employees, mostly on the basis of their shared passion for Diesel. For example, when invited to receive the “Grand Prix”, advertising’s top prize at the official ceremony in Cannes in 2001, he appeared on stage with four clones—team members made-up to look like him (see Exhibit 1). Media Advertising Before 1991 Diesel was a typical young design company. It focused all its energy on launching new products (about 1,800 new references per year) and did not even have a consistent brand logo. Starting in 1991, Maurizio Marchiori, the newly-appointed advertising director, developed a global branding campaign in-house with the help of Paradiset, a Swedish advertising agency. The campaign appropriated the “products make better living” theme popular among advertisers in the 50s and turned it on its head in the “Diesel for Successful Living” campaign. Diesel’s vision of consumer paradise was to be interpreted...