CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - 'King Frank' adds twist to Diesel launch

Client: Diesel UK

Client: Diesel UK

PR Team: In-house and S.Punk

Campaign: Promotion of Diesel's autumn/winter range 2000

Timescale: Ongoing from July 2000

Budget: Undisclosed

Diesel Worldwide sells a range of lifestyle products, from streetwear to sunglasses and fragrances, and is a brand that appeals to mid-teens and thirty-somethings alike.

To promote its Spring/ Summer 2000 collection, Diesel invented 'Joanna' - a fake country pop star, who poked fun at the music industry's love affair with big bucks and major sponsorship deals.

Keeping to this theme, Diesel's creative team, based at the company HQ in Italy, decided to promote the autumn/winter range 2000 with a fictitious fashion photographer Frank P Stevenson, aka 'King Frank'.

Sleazy super-snapper King Frank was given bags of pretentious attitude in an attempt to mock both Diesel and the world of fashion photography.

This was a global initiative, but to meet the expectations of the more cynical British public, the King Frank persona and his specially created web site needed to be supported by additional activity.


To leverage Diesel's cheeky brand heritage with a campaign that was predominantly marketing and PR-led. Of course, the bottom line was to shift the product, so it was important that customers could buy into and interact with events.

Strategy and Plan

The first stage was to create awareness of the King Frank name and encourage visitors to the web site. To achieve this, e-mails were sent through various credible sources to fuel the rumour that King Frank's internet presence was in fact the brainchild of a famous fashion photographer, using a pseudonym in order to anonymously satirise the industry.

Two weeks later, this activity was supported by a mock exhibition, held in conjunction with The Face, showcasing the 'amazing' work of hot new talent King Frank. The exhibits were intentionally pretentious rubbish, so at this point, Diesel revealed its involvement with King Frank and that the exhibition was a joke.

At a post-event party, the Diesel marketing team revealed the real autumn/winter 2000 advertising campaign, emblazoned with logos.

The final twist was a viral campaign using e-mail and the internet.

London-based Cunning Stunts staged a burglary of the most 'famous' photograph in the exhibition, Bird, reputably worth nearly dollars 12,000.

Using an undercover web-cam, this robbery was 'accidentally' beamed live around the world, to obscure e-mail addresses courtesy of Cunning Stunts' sister agency S.Punk.

Tongues firmly stuck in cheeks, the PR team then identified the thief as Craig Scott, whose father once stole Sophia Loren's jewels and an original Picasso.

Measurement and Evaluation

As the campaign is ongoing, it will not be formally analysed until the current season comes to a close in December. A key factor will be comparing how this below-the-line campaign measures up to previous advertising-led campaigns.

Diesel expects to evaluate its activities by examining sales volume, media interest and number of hits on the King Frank web site. The marketing team will also look at how the public and customers responded to the stunts and the viral internet and e-mail initiatives.


The apparently cheap and cheesy King Frank web site appears to have scored well with customers and chat rooms.

The fashion brand claims that the Mirror and ITN were temporary fooled by the robbery footage. However, coverage of the campaign in the mainstream UK news media has been scant.

Fashion and lifestyle journalists viewed Diesel's activities more favourably, perhaps being better positioned to get the joke.

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