The Kicking of Ass: When sneakers stopped caring about sports
Everybody knows that Nike is all about doing “it.” Now, over the years they’ve tweaked at their message relentlessly but “Just do it” is as ingrained in the Nike culture as the Happy Meal is at McDonald’s. Nike almost literally owns sport. The others - Reebok, Adidas, Puma, Fila – usually find themselves reduced to running around in circles, fighting for attention within branches of the same market. It doesn’t matter though. When it comes to sports and the shoes they require, Nike is the tops.
But what do you do if your shoe is not scientifically engineered to improve on-court handling? What do you do if your shoe is not endorsed by some hyper-famous athlete that trains twelve hours a day and bleeds Gatorade? What if your shoe is little more than the flotsam of some East Asian manufacturing deal to provide cheap rubber shoes that sell for more than they’re actually worth? I’ll tell you what you do. You give your shoe a job, and a personality, that stands out as being pretty friggen cool.
It’s kind of amazing that no sneaker company has ever reached out to the world of ass kicking as the sole (yes, I know…) reason to own their shoes. It took Diesel, famous for upsetting regular folks with such avant garde ad campaigns as a talking meat puppet(?!) to feature a line of sneakers dedicated to kicking ass. And their intro ad to the whole premise? A true spectacle of absurdist beauty.
A country stretch of road. Flying birds, a horse, waving leaves and yellowed grass. Then a putt-putt-putt sound as engine noise approaches. We next see a rounded, pinkish sort of mound cruising across the screen. Close in on the “rear” of the zooming vehicle and we see it’s a great big, puffy human ass on wheels. The bulbous booty races down the road, right past a weed-encrusted billboard. Behind it? A large, black high-top sneaker, itself on wheels. The sneaker spies the ass –and quickly gives chase as the twangy song “Upset” by Maxi Trusso begins to play.
Zigging this way and that, the chase is on as the ass zips all over while the sneaker stays in hot pursuit. Around corners, through bales of hay, hiding in sheds, caves, you name it – the ass does it’s very best to elude the ever-closing shoe. Finally, the ass finds itself trapped in a box canyon, stuck fast against a wall with its fleshy flank perfectly displayed. The sneaker stops, pauses for effect and then floors it, driving itself right into the captured ass. Screen to white. Upon our return, the music has softened and we see a close up of our sneaker driving on a now twilit road with the ass parked prominently on his toe – moving together as one. Script fills the screen – “I feel I wasn’t made for running, but to kick you tender till the end of time. Yours, Diesel Sneaker.” We end on a Diesel logo along with a restatement of their now-defined truth “Diesel sneakers – not made for running (Great for kicking asses). Lovely.
This spot is as creatively bizarre as it is genius. There’s a distinct Woody Allen “Bananas” flavour to the whole thing, not to mention the awkward realization that you have just wasted one entire minute of your life watching a motorized sneaker chase (and kick) a motorized ass (You’re welcome, by the way). The lunacy of it is amazing. And Diesel invests far more detail in this campaign than you would ever imagine. Check out the site here.
Oh, to own the idea of kicking ass. Crass or not, there is something inherently desirable about kicking ass, or being an ass kicker. It’s so derivative, so specific and so clearly practical. Plus it’s funny too. Watching someone get kicked in the ass is also motivational. Nothing better clarifies your own desire to avoid such a fate as watching it happen to someone else. There is something decidedly western about ask kicking. No nonsense. Clint Eastwood is an ass kicker. So is Chuck Norris – and Stallone too. Look at Obama. Desperate to prove he was a tough guy versus the tweedy intellectual he actually is, Obama almost jumped out of his chair in search of “whose ass to kick” over the BP oil thing. Even a sheltered Harvard alum knows what being no-nonsense is all about. Ass kicking is rough, raw and real – totally down to earth stuff - and when you figure most off-brand sneakers these days are foofily referred to as non-athletic sport shoes I have to thank Diesel for flipping that moronic appellation on its back.
Now, as a point of fact, I do feel obligated to state for the record that the very best “shoe” for kicking ass is not some cheap, canvas sneaker from overseas but a good, solid steel-toed workboot from overseas. That is, if pain and maximum damage are desired. Sneakers are a tad friendly on that account. That said, any clothing brand so determined to get my attention that they will film a giant motorized sneaker chasing a wheeled ass around the desert deserves more than a second look. Imagine. I might actually consider buying a Diesel shoe. Now ain’t that a great big kick in the ass?