unfashionable fashion


Well.unfashionable male hair

I forgot I had this in my draft folder <hence the reason it is slightly dated> but thought there was still time to harpoon some advertising.


Now that Christmas is over and I can get out of the Christmas joy & spirit and all that stuff … I am gonna bring my best Grinch to the fashion industry & its advertising.



I have thought the fashion industry needed to be taken out to the woodshed for quite some time with regard to marketing & advertising.

And then I saw a gift television advertisement for Giorgio Armani cologne <a cologne one reviewer suggested “terrible cheap scent …  it smells like a salad with cucumber”>.



Instead of bringing the fashion industry advertising folk out to the woodshed for a good beat down I simply decided to bring the woodshed to them.


Here is that ad <without the gift call to action … which I couldn’t find … which is unfortunate because it was the ‘buy a gift for him’ that was the final straw in terms of WTF-type thinking>

unfashionable male

Giorgio Armani “Acqua di Gio Essenza” – Personal Jesus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K_MFWcA280




The ad is horrible on a number of levels <all of which I will outline in detail> but frankly … this advertisement has plenty of horrible company within fashion marketing.

99% of the marketing and advertising in the fashion industry is so misguided and so misdirected and so naïve with regard to the attitudes and relevance to what I suppose is their target audience customer … that is just painful to watch and look at.


In most cases … I have to believe if the actual product itself wasn’t as good as it was … they wouldn’t be selling shit. In fact. If I have ever seen another industry where I believe the advertising and marketing is actually DECREASING possible sales … I don’t know that I can think of one.


The main problem <I imagine> in the advertising creative development is that fashion business people believe they are in the creative business already … so therefore what could a non fashion marketing person ever know, or do, that they couldn’t  do all on their own.


Oh my.


This is like a corporate brand manager saying ‘hey, I wrote an awarding winning paper in high school … so why can’t I write the copy for the ads?”.

<they cannot … and should not … and yet they still want to>


But in every other industry outside of fashion businesses have sucked it up and hired professionals to help them craft messages that actually enhance the likeability & desirability of their products and services <oh … and sales>.


Here is an unfortunate truth for them.


A fashion photographer can shoot beautiful photos … but most likely cannot create beautiful <relevant> advertising.

A fashion designer can design beautiful cool clothes … but most likely cannot create beautiful cool <relevant> advertising.unfashionable unrealistic


There is a difference between being noticed  … and saying something that is noticed <meaningful>.

Advertising is often about ‘controlling impressions’ <what people think> more than anything else. A simple ‘that is cool’ ain’t enough these days. Frankly … no one has enough money to simply spend it creating some intangible ethereal image … dollars need to be maximized. Maximized by managing the image and impression being created.




The ad.


unfashionable male 2It is a single metro-sexual hunk walking out of the surf <in kind of sepia tone film look & feel> to the old Depeche Mode song “personal jesus” … and the Christmas execution I saw closed with ‘buy him a gift this Christmas’ … oh … and I saw it two days straight on the morning edition of ESPN Sportscenter.



I could teach an entire class using this one advertisement to show what the fashion is doing wrong <and how they are thinking wrong> as well as what they should be seeking to do very soon in their marketing to appeal to today’s fashion product buyers … some would call them ‘consumers’ <which I hate to burst the current fashion marketer’s bubble … doesn’t look anything like what they thought it looked like in the past>.


I probably could go second by second and have a field day with this ad … but instead I will focus on the 4 horsemen of this ad’s apocalypse:


–          The song.

–          The imagery.

–          The placement of the ad.

–          The call to action.


The song.




While I love Depeche Mode’s music … I will begin with the song’s age. The song is really old <80’s ??>. Why does this matter?


Isn’t fashion supposed to be hip & cool & trendsetting? <rhetorical question>

Cutting edge?



I am pretty sure even I could have found a dark moody techno song … done in the past year or two … instead of dipping back into the 80’s.

Particularly given the target I believe they are trying to reach with this advertisement.


And dear fashion industry … your target shouldn’t be defined by age <which may have possibly tempted you to use an 80’s song> but rather by lifestyle or attitude <which should have untempted you to use an 80’s song>.


Then the lyrics.

Please understand that when you creatively develop a concept using a song in a commercial … you are very cognizant of lyrics and how you may, or may not, use them in combination with visuals and images as they appear onscreen. In fact … we are almost assholishly anal with regard to the attention to this detail.


That said.

Personal Jesus?

Well. I have one word. Jesus. As in jesusfrickinchrist.

So the man who wears this is Jesus?

Or symbolically <if you are a woman> … he is my jesus?

How frickin’ pretentious is this? <another rhetorical question>


I buy the fact that there are gobs of pretentious holier than thou ‘I love to look at myself in the mirror’ pricks hanging out at the martini bars in every city who may possibly buy this crap <the message or the cologne .. pick the proper noun for the adjective> … but c’mon.

This is a perfect example of decreasing potential sales.


The pricks, and prick lovers, will buy this cologne.

Just as a reminder … there are more non-pricks and non-prick lovers in the world than the opposite.


I think even Jesus cried when he saw this ad.

Nuff said.





Good god almighty <which seems an appropriate exclamation after listening to Personal Jesus>.

I am all for aspirational imagery.

And I fully understand that this isn’t about real ‘I see my man as this guy’ but rather ‘I want him to know that I think of him this way’ type messaging … but this level of narcissism is … well … unappealing.unfashionable expectations



It is unrelatable.


This imagery is a reflection of the fact that the fashion industry has lost touch with what is relevant to today’s world.

This may have been a good use of imagery in the 1980’s <and then they could have used the song> but in today’s world … well … this idea should never have left the conference room.


Aspirational doesn’t mean you have to completely de-link yourself from the believable or realatble. There is a line you do not have to cross.

Effective use of imagery in communications is truly a learned skill.


It is often in the nuance.


And this imagery bludgeons you.


While it is horrible imagery it is a beautiful example of why fashion people should do fashion communications.


Unless you like to get bludgeoned with unrelatable images that decrease sales potential.






<insert image of me scratching my head with a quizzical look on my face … and looking nothing like the guy walking out of the surf in the commercial>really question



Because … well … yeah … so many of the women who watch the morning version of ESPN sportscenter run to Macy’s for cologne for their ‘personal jesus’ boyfriends.



I will give Armani that women watch ESPN and sportcenter <although I am not so sure they do so as much in the morning>.


Spending money on marketing is about return on investment.

Let me guess what happened.

Someone probably said something like “we should be where the competition isn’t … we will stand out!”

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ….


You bet you will stand out.


You will stand out like a pimple on the morning of a big meeting.


I would suggest that I would rather be where my competition is … and beat them by actually doing a good commercial.

I am all for doing something different than the competition.

But not because it is the only way to stand out.


From my perspective … unless I had money to burn … this seems like a crazy thing to do.

Even crazier with this ad … but … I am not a fashion marketing person I guess <but I do watch morning Sportscenter>.




Call to action.


It was “Buy a gift for him.”

This is nitpicky … but … I imagine if I sat down with a designer they would say that each stitch matters. Detail often creates the final nuance in the impression.

It’s on ESPN.

It’s mostly guys.

Maybe some are gay.

But that’s not the point.

I am a guy watching. I just watched a highlight where some linebacker crushed a quarterback. For some reason I have actually figured out how to stay in front of the tv to watch some pretentious prick stride out of the surf in a commercial.

And then the commercial ends with “buy a gift for him.”




I’m supposed to buy a gift for the guys I hand out with?

Over wings & beer I say “hey … I bought you a Christmas gift … here’s some cologne”?



Maybe I look in the mirror and say “you deserve a gift … I’m gonna buy you some cologne.”

<sales increase exponentially in this situation if it includes me, myself & i>



I am not sure I would have spent the money putting the commercial on ESPN … but let’s say I did. If I did I would want to make damn sure the details maximized the investment. Details. Each stitch matters.



Done with this.




Now that I have skewered them … and by the way … you could steal any of these thoughts and apply them to most of what you see from fashion brands … I am going to tell them the marketing they should be doing.


Bottom line.

It should be smarter.

There is no such thing anymore as a brand built solely on ‘image’ … there has to be some substance.


Why can’t someone just focus on image?


People want more.

They want some depth.


Shit. They EXPECT more.

And this pertains even more so to the younger generations … the ones who are questioning everything … the ones where counterculture is next to impossible because as soon as something becomes cool it is uncool. And it is replaced by something new.


For example. While in the past graphics and design may have dominated t-shirts … now it’s messages. Young people may not verbalize their thoughts and messages … but they wear them. And they wear lots of different messages so that people know they are thinking about lots of things and they may be more complex than some ‘vapid good looking trying to be cool’ kid.


unfashionable cool smart

I am kidding to make a Point

What does that all mean?




And if the fashion industry doesn’t get onboard … well … they are gonna be left behind as someone does get it.


The future? fashionably smart



Geeky is the new cool.

Beauty is about imperfections.

Vapid has given way to thoughtful.


The communications, and industry itself, doesn’t have to be involved behaviorwise <doing smart and imperfect things> … but you do have to be in sync thinkingwise in the new generation.


To this generation … smart has value. It is not about feelings & image <solely> but rather expression and ‘mind.’ Mind as in “what’s on my mind.”

To this generation … imperfection has value. “Perfection is shit” may be this generation’s mantra.



I am not suggesting that the people in the marketing and actual advertising have to be geeky … nor does smart have to look non trendy or conservative or even expected. It just have to have some substance … some depth with regard to its final impression made in people’s minds. unfashionable ashton 2

It cannot simply be a veneer of vapidness <the worst end of the spectrum> or simply opinionless <at it’s simplest worst>.


Clothes and fashion say so much about the person who actually has deemed it worthy to not only spend hard earned money on … but be seen or smelled in it.

Maybe the fashion industry doesn’t understand that people don’t simply say “wow … that looks good” … they also  attach some attitudes & perceptions. Their consumer is not just buying looks but attitudes & perceptions too.



This ad which started my whole rant was embarrassing. Embarrassing not just to Armani … but to me … me as a marketing guy.



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Written by Bruce