Climate Change Denial

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June 28, 2007


George Marshall @ 1:41 pm

Diesel Jeans new advertising campaign provides yet more evidence that we could slip from a refusal to acknowledge climate change to a form of blasé reactive denial that says “big deal, bring it on”. The worldwide advertising campaign called “Global Warming Ready” which carries the byline “Yes life is going to be a beach in the future”, shows models in beachware against a background of flooding, heatwaves, parrots in St Marks Square and that familiar warming cliché, penguins on icebergs. See the ads….

new york

This is clearly the kind of cynical advertising that we have come to expect from clothing companies desperate to differentiate their products by generating controversy- in the past Diesel ads have recommended chain smoking and drinking your own piss.

But actually this campaign is particularly dangerous because it is not controversial enough.

Real controversy depends on upsetting some strongly held conviction. But, outside the minority of dedicated environmentalists, public belief in climate change is still shaky to say the least. So rather than challenging anything, the Diesel adverts tend to play only too well to a prevalent form of mass denial- the belief that a warmer climate will better weather. Diesel prepared an advert specially for Finland that shows a model in the desert propped up (collapsed?) against a reindeer crossing sign.

diesel-in-finland-better.jpgFocusing this message in Scandinavia is extremely irresponsible. Across northern countries there is a widespread opinion that climate change could be a good thing.

Back in 2003 Russian President Putin made a bizarre off the cuff comment in the World Climate Conference that ” if temperatures get warmer by 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, it’s not such a bad thing. We could spend less on warm coats, and grain harvests would increase further”. Putin claimed his comments were lighthearted, but they were clearly held by many in his circle.

This is a dangerous game. Diesel want to play it both ways by claiming that the adverts are “designed to ignite debate while raising awareness of the issues surrounding climate change.” Actually, though, the campaign ignites nothing- it merely reflects a dangerous delusion and then validates it.

Thank you very much Matilda Carlsson for sending me the Finnish advert,

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3 responses to “DIESEL SLICK”

  1. voidmatters says:

    Not being much of a fashion addict, I do find the ads very creative and not adding controversy but rather creating awareness of an ongoing debate. One might doubt however, that this is truly the company’s intention.

    To me adds like these rather fall into a “sponsored arts” category of course with financial motives on the sponsors side. However, I do find them much more powerful in inciting people to consider an issue than most critical articles like this one, picking on every potential controversial approach that comes along.

    But thanks for pointing out the ads / images.

    And I don’t like criticism that interprets words or images as an offense when there truly is none. Things might seem superficial at a first glance, but that shouldn’t make all wannabe-aware people talk them down, translating every potenial risk into real danger.

    Ads on “serious topics” can always be understood as propagandistic or hypocrtical and people who do not understand that or worse, blindly believe in benefits from ads, need some general education.

    However, I believe they won’t find it in arguments like the ones discussed here, first of all because hardly any one of those “unaware people” won’t be looking out for them or be willing to read them.

  2. As you say this kind of advertising is not particularly dangerous (I’m a little surprised not to see more of it here in the UK), but I think environmentalists should treat it as a warning. They need to find ways of ensuring they do not come across as puritan ‘killjoys’. This is one reason why I would like to see more effort made to redesign windfarms – the old windmills were aesthetically pleasing but the new turbines are not, and some people also complain that they are noisy. We need wind power as well as solar, and it’s very important to make it attractive.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Very interesting campaign, thanks for bringing it to my attention. Diesel are being disingenuous when they say the ads are meant to ‘ignite debate and raise awareness’ – obviously their primary purpose is to sell clothes, same as any other ad, and position Diesel as edgy and unorthodox in the process.
    I think they’re dangerous not for for saying global warming is good, but because they’ve adopted a position of ironic detachment. They make it okay, or cool even, to smugly disengage from the issues. And there’s nothing quite so dangerous as indifference.
    Anyway, interesting. I’m torn between wanting to blog about them, and knowing that the less this foolishly self-satisfied campaign is talked about the better.

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