Featured workDiesel: The Daily African

In 2001, Italian fashion house Diesel attracted a great deal of attention with its campaign The Daily African, not because of the extravagance of the products advertised but because of the way in which they were presented.

In the campaign, Diesel created a parallel universe in which young, beautiful, rich Africans threw themselves into a luxury lifestyle, wearing – of course – Diesel clothing. Headlines from an imaginary newspaper called the The Daily African were superimposed onto the photographed scenes. These headlines would be familiar to the average educated European and yet there were a few important differences. They reflected news items from the parallel universe: mistreatment of migrants, corruption, natural disasters, where something had been inverted. European nations were now the victims, and Africa the continent providing aid and watching over from a distance. Unlike most artworks, these advertisements reached a wide audience, appearing in all notable European magazines and prompting various kinds of discussion. Would the African lifestyle really be so European if Africa was the centre of the world? Is it acceptable to make use of suffering to advertise jeans? Does Europe only notice daily news from Africa when the message is turned upside down and therefore can no longer be seen as commonplace? Ultimately, the much talked-about campaign generated a great deal of attention for Diesel.

  • Diesel. The Daily African, 2001. Advertisement, 27.7 x 42.6 cm. © Diesel 2001 production.

    Photos by Ellen von Unwerth, copywriter Bjorn Reitz, advertising agency DDB Stockholm

    The Daily African, 2001