Pornhub Becomes Diesel's Top Referral Site Following Ad Deal

Tim Maytom

diesel pornhub campaignTraditional brand wisdom has always stated that large companies that aren't directly related to the adult industry should avoid advertising on sites that host pornographic material, but lifestyle brand Diesel has flown in the face of that guidance, and since starting an advertising deal with adult website Pornhub has found the site has become its top referrer.

The campaign began two months ago, and built on some of the firm's existing branding, which had seen it use deliberately subversive messages in its autumn/winter 2015 campaign, both digitally and in the physical world. Posters and banner ads were deliberately upfront about their desire to drive traffic to the brand's website, and parodied traditional high fashion campaigns.

"I was always frustrated by those things that we all think but we're not allowed to say," said Nicola Formichetti, artistic director for Diesel, in an interview with Dazed & Confused. "What we see in advertisements is just selling fake dreams, fake things, this impossible beauty. I think we have to be honest. Yeah, this is an ad, we're selling shoes. But it's in an interesting way, and people smile."

This blunt approach to advertising also extended to advertising on platforms traditionally avoided by other companies for fears over brand safety, including dating apps Tinder and Grindr, and adult websites including Pornhub and YouPorn.

The campaign features imagery associated with contemporary online culture, including custom Diesel emojis and video content that references Snapchat, selfie culture and other social media mainstays. The brand has even used native formats within apps to create a more seamless experience for consumers.

"We still advertise on billboards and magazines, they're important, but more and more we need to start advertising where people go," said Formichetti. "Which is phones, iPads and digital screens, websites. For Tinder, we got one of our models to pretend to be a user, so you're swiping and then Sam comes up like 'Hello!'. It's clear that it's an ad, but we're engaging with where we are, and that's about this transparency.

"I think we're the first brand to go on Pornhub. At Diesel, we want to talk about things that not everyone else is talking about – I like that we get to do that. We all go on websites like Pornhub, you know? So before you start jerking off maybe you can stop and look at our new pants and hoes and, just laugh! It's funny."