Does Diesel’s Pete the Meat Puppet Video Really Sell Jeans?

Diesel Xmas Gallery

It’s hard to tell from the front page of their website, but DIESEL is a high-end Italian clothing company with fancy stores and hundreds of flavors of denim jeans. They are actually the ones who started the whole thing of jeans that are pre-washed/worn/with-holes-in-them and let’s not forget high-priced.

I don’t actually care if Diesel is able to sell more jeans because of the weird videos they put up on their site. I am never, ever, going to buy any of their pants. But the videos are delightfully odd and entertaining and I don’t want them to stop.

Ostentatious marketing and promotion is definitely a hallmark of the company This year saw the company’s 30-year anniversary and they had a sale on new jeans for 30 quid. And in 2005 they published a 300-page 7.3-pound book called Fifty to celebrate the 50th birthday of the company’s founder Renzo Rosso.

But in the digital realm they are reaching new heights, their web video gallery is weird, wild and provocative. Some highlights below.

Hair Bath is exactly what it sounds like. A bath of hair, brought to you by Diesel. What? The young lady likes hair, would like you to send her yours, and in exchange will squirm around in it cooing like that chick from the old Pearl Drops toothpaste commercial. What!?!?

There have been 3 videos in the Hair Bath series so far, plus a short appeal which simply asks for you to cut and send more hair to keep bath-time going.

Then there’s Pete the Meat Puppet. No, he’s not a former member of that old SST band. Think of Pete as a Howdy Doody of ham, a Kermit the Frog of flesh, a Pinocchio of pork, a Madam of mutton, a Lambchop of lamb, and even a Charlie McCarthy charcuterie, if you will. In short, he’s a puppet of meat.

Makes more sense now? If not there are two more Pete-related videos to help inquiring and hungry minds digest the possibilities.

Another video called “Flag Ceremony” features an underage marching band in what seems like a glimpse of the next generation of Extra Action Marching Band members, who will could be funded by residuals from an early age.

Rarely throughout does the Diesel brand name or any of their products appear noticeably in the frame. An exception is in their Dance Party series where contestants wear little more than Diesel undergarments. Overall it’s definitely a different take than the myriad dance competition shows that currently dominate the air waves.

Episodes 1 to 3 of Dance Party are up, but I guess we’ll have to wait til #4 to find out who won and what, if anything, they get. Diesel also deserves a tip of the hat for keeping Roman Numerals relevant in fashion. Also sacks over the head with Roman Numerals on them.

In addition to these video series the site also shows numerous shorts that tread a weird kitschy line between infomercials, late night evangelists and test patterns. For instance, if you need a little primer on Success, Diesel has that covered. And meet a woman whose life has changed for the better. Then there’s the wealth guru with very bad handwriting.

Sometimes a toll-free phone number pops up in these shorts: 888-559-5759. When I called it (why not it’s free!) I got a recording saying that eventually real people will answer this line. But in the meantime you can leave a message which they have the right to broadcast or use in any way they want. So if you want to shout into the Diesel phone hole….

Oh, and on the other end of the subtle & arty video creations above, here’s DIESEL’s 2008 Christmas ad, which is decidedly more commercial. In fact cynically and obsessively commercial. Also very very funny.

Lest you think their print campaigns are particularly less odd, note an example below starring model Jon Kortajarena for their 2009 men’s line, with a decidedly foot fetishist overtone…

Diesel Spring-Summer 2009 Mens Ad Campaign

Also, someone in that apartment can bowl, huh?


Actor, nerd, poet, producer, writer mikl-em made his name short so you wouldn't have to. In addition to his blog you can find his writing in "Hi Fructose" magazine and witness him almost life-sized in various plays at The Dark Room Theater in SF's Mission district.

He tends to write about theater, humor, San Francisco culture and history, and stuff that's just plain weird. He thanks Scott for sharing the keys to the Laughing Squid virtual HQ and promises to uphold whatever it is that the mirthful cephalopod would prefer to be uplifted.