Pop up market stalls in SoHo, New York aren’t anything unusual, nor are the knockoffs of popular name brands many of these shops sell to unwary consumers.
When yet another stall appeared just off Canal Street, passersby would notice that the brand this particular vendor was selling some very familiar, if not slightly off labels: Deisel. Not Diesel, as the popular and well-known fashion label is actually spelled.
On any given day, there is a plethora of knock offs of popular labels – Gucci, Coach, Rolex, you name it – available for purchase. Savvy shoppers are very much aware of the game, and some expect, and even look for them.
But this little shop was different. Sure, as expected with counterfeit merchandise the jeans, sweaters, and other clothing items were being sold at a fraction of the prices the “real” brands typically sold for. For example, the jeans here were selling for $69.99; whereas Diesel jeans’ starting price was over $200.1
What shoppers didn’t know was this little operation was in reality an actual Diesel shop, selling genuine Diesel clothes. How’s that for a twist?
Wait a minute, the real guys are selling…fake fakes?!(What would be the point?) Well, here it is: Companies spend a lot of resources tracking down counterfeiters and putting them out of business. The strategy here was: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. There was more to this plan than just an experiment in branding. The misspelled “Deisel” labeled clothes were actually limited editions, creating a collectible that was in fact a legitimate product and an increased level of awareness around both names.2
Talk about a STUNT!
Renzo Rosso, founder of the Diesel brand, was actually present in the tiny store, a big help in rapidly moving the real, yet pretending to be fake merchandise – and competing directly with the “genuine” fakers (wrap your head around that one).
The word got out fast, boosted in part by celebrity rapper Gucci Mane tweeting out that he was visiting the store, and fans showed up to wait line for more hour to see what all the fuss about.
The big media outlets certainly go the joke and provided huge coverage of had become an event – The New York Times, Vogue, AdWeek, Bloomberg – with their millions of subscribers, all providing coverage and massive exposure not just for this tiny pop up store, but for the Deisel, er, Diesel brand name.
They may have sold a bunch of expensive merch for knock-off prices, but the huge boost in brand awareness and free publicity they generated was worth it many times over.
I wonder if Gucci has a “Giccu” store somewhere…
Faking out their own fakers was a truly DISRUPTIVE way to earn huge media placements and consumer brand awareness – and have others tell the story they wanted told.
Showing your audience that you are addressing a problem with a solution builds trust – and coverage that comes from respected sources builds third-party credibility. That’s the mix that gets you the ROI you’re looking for – and that JOTO PR Disruptors can help provide.
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- Schneier, Matthew, “To Knock Out Knockoffs, Knock Off Knockoffs”, TheNewYorkTimes.com, www.nytimes.com/2018/02/11/fashion/diesel-deisel-new-york-fashion-week-pop-up.html, February 11, 2018
- Pithers, Ellie, “Why Diesel Is Selling Knock-Offs To Unsuspecting Customers”, Vogue.co.uk, www.vogue.co.uk/article/diesel-fake-store-new-york-february-2018, February 9, 2018