A Semiotic Analysis of Diesel Commercial

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Rebellion, Power and Strength
Diesel is a contemporary, luxury nouveau genre Italian design clothing company whose clientele is the young adult market. Throughout the years Diesel has established its name partly through an array of shocking controversial advertising campaigns, such as Be Stupid, Misopolis, which promotes women’s right to abortion, and finally, Fuel for Life Women Only designed to advertise their latest fragrance for women. The latter has launched a series of commercials and banners which feature young gorgeous females only. If one considers other typical fragrance commercials such as Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana to name a few, one may notice that there is a constant overtly sexual male-female relationship portrayed throughout their campaign to sell their product, however Diesel has opted for a different approach. While Fuel for Life Women Only flirts with provocative issues such as rebellion against patriarchy and the idea that women are uncontrollable beings, female independence, and female sexualisation, it does so in such a beautiful classy way that the issues promoted seem barely shocking at all. In this semiotic analysis I will argue and explain how the women show that they are rebelling against patriarchy through signs of female sexualisation, rebellion against gender roles and female independence. Finally I will analyse what this reveals about our culture.

As a starting point of analysis, it is mandatory to focus on the advertisement itself. The viewer is presented with what seems to be a scenario taking place in modern South West Europe because of the aesthetic look of the house where they are and because of the architectural nature of the streets shown throughout the video. It appears to be of modern times because of the city lights and the cars perceived behind the balcony outside. At first sight the decor of the house seem quite austere and typical of the 1930’s, however it is arguable that this style of house is still very prominent in countries of South West Europe, but not in North America. Another important detail is that there are absolutely no men throughout the advertisement, only young gorgeous white women. The music style is classical, and the instruments played are piano and cello. The video immediately yields a message of high class ladies who exhibit the perfect combination of feminism and sexiness, borderline perversity. The scenes are very short as they all last less than four seconds and are joined together each portraying the women’s actions, such as playing cards, peeking through a key hole, destroying a bedroom, etc. The product being sold is a bottle of perfume from Diesel designed for women only, hence the reason why no men are being portrayed throughout. At the end of the video the bottle is being shown for the first time, first held in the hands of the three females, and then presented on its own. The overall length of the video is 1 minute, and the bottle is being seen for the last five seconds.

There are several connotations promoted here, and in every case these connotations demonstrate a refusal of the patriarchal system. The first one establishes a refusal of patriarchy through the demonstration that women are extremely aware of their sexuality. In his book entitled Ideology, Myth and Magic: Feminity, Masculinity, and “Gender Roles”, Allen Johnson declares that “in practice, feminity applies only to women’s place in heterosexual relationships. And we conveniently ignore everything else. In characteristic patriarchal style, the entirety of women’s being is reduced to their ties with men, particularly lovers and husbands”. (63) By overtly displaying their sexuality, the women break the rules of patriarchy by showing that they are sexual beings and do not need a man to remind them that they are so. The most obvious sexual connotation is when the woman in the white satin dress who is on the balcony uses her body language to show that she is currently being...
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