On Tuesday, Diesel released a new anti-cyberbullying campaign for Autumn/Winter 2018. As part of the campaign, celebs like Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane, Bella Thorne, Yoo Ah-in and more have joined forces with the brand.
The celebs chosen took some of the hateful messages they receive on social media and emblazoned them on a Diesel design, which the brand is calling “hate couture.” One photo shows Gucci sitting on red theater seats, wearing a shirt that says “Fuck You, Imposter” while Nicki Minaj looks somewhat reproachfully at the camera with a shirt displaying “The Bad Guy”.
Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel, told Business of Fashion, “We wanted to create this controversial irony with our clothes. It’s the way we have to communicate today. We have to do it with our lifestyle and irony.”
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You donât make online hate disappear by hiding it. Introducing #DieselHateCouture feat. @nickiminaj @bellathorne @laflare1017 @tommy.dorfman @younggoth @barbienox @chronicflowers @hongsick @yoventura @jouubellini #FW18 . . . Directed by @jovan_todorovic Styling by @marcgoehring
Diesel is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the brand has made its stylish reputation on being provocative. From an ad campaign depicting two male sailors kissing a la the iconic WWII photo to showing a black man diving into a “whites only” swimming pool, the brand has been unafraid to tackle sexuality, race, and other issues.
“You don’t make online hate disappear by hiding it,” Diesel tweeted Tuesday evening. On Monday, Minaj posted an Instagram photo promoting the campaign and captioned it, “You need people like me. So you can point your finger & say: THAT’S THE BAD GUY?? Got a surprise for anyone who’s ever been labeled #TheBadGuy.”
Some people expressed that it may be a bit hypocritical to have Minaj as one of the faces of an anti-cyberbullying campaign. Blogger Wanna Thompson wrote on Twitter, “You know how tone deaf you have to be as a brand to enlist Nicki Minaj to front a campaign to bring cyberbullying to light?” she wrote. “Who was behind this? Do they live under a rock?”
This was in reference to a message Minaj sent Thompson after the blogger shared a critique of Minaj’s music. “You know how dope it would be if Nicki put out mature content? No silly shit. Just reflecting on past relationships, being a boss, hardships, etc. She’s touching 40 soon, a new direction is needed,” Thompson tweeted on June 29.
Minaj, not exactly happy about the tweet, sent a DM to Thompson: “When ya ugly ass was 24 u were pushing 30? I’m 34. I’m touching 40 ? lol. And what does that have to do with my music? Eat a dick u hating ass hoe.”
You know how tone deaf you have to be as a brand to enlist Nicki Minaj to front a campaign to bring cyber-bullying to light? Who was behind this? Do they live under a rock? https://t.co/2AeMj8dsrO
— Wanna (@WannasWorld) September 19, 2018
Diesel tweeted in response, “We’re here to support anyone who’s getting hated on, and Nicki is one of them.”
Whether the brand’s response was satisfactory may be up in the air, but it’s certainly par for the course for a brand that courts controversy. Rosso reflected on previous ad campaigns to BoF.
“For me, the 90s advertising was not very controversial, it was just an ironic way to see the problems,” he said. “Today it’s more close to the reality of the age, where people are into social issues and can talk with everyone about this. It’s the only way to survive — to be in contact with the new generation.”