Juste Un Clou

cartier.jpg

This skyscraper ad I screen grabbed off a website is jaw droppingly brilliant – or cynical – or both. It's a form of cultural appropriation, but between socio-economic classes more than across racial or cultural lines.

Would a man who can wear (afford) a suit that sleek and well-tailored ride a skateboard? Would a man who can afford a bracelet that retails for $2500 - $35,000 (that is not a typo, and I don't know how the range is accounted for. Perhaps base material, and optional jewels?) use a skateboard as his preferred form of transportation?

But look at THAT skateboard! It's been painted ultra-reflective black, which both in sheen and color are reminiscent of hyper-stylized car ads, watch ads, and high-tech gadgets usually targeted to the luxe market. And the deck is pristine – none of the dings and scratches that tell you it's actually been taken for a ride.

This campaign is a master's thesis in false humility: Juste Un Clou translates as Just A Nail –– and this bracelet is anything but "just" anything. The imagery attempts to bridge the raw authenticity of street life / street wear with the rarified world of true luxury.  Cartier is not a premium brand wishfully aspiring to luxury status. Cartier is legitimately one of the world's foremost luxury brands. Does Cartier want us to believe Francois pulled his board out of the trunk of his Porsche for a lazy spin at the beach? Why does the brand want to associate itself with the ultimate symbol of hipster street-skate-surf culture (the skateboard being the most portable, accessible symbol of the lifestyle)?

The campaign attempts luxe meets street; it demonstrates a mastery of slick production values (the styling, the photography, the location, the typography) yet features the preferred shorthand symbol for the youth generation, I don't give a damn attitude. You literally cannot get any closer to the rough and dirty street than a skateboard; yet this ad transforms the board into a (pristine) fetish object. The campaign aspires to capture crossover appeal but instead comes across as something of a poseur. Those of us who grew up in The Valley in the '70s know exactly who those kids were, including when we ourselves were guilty of trying to be something(one) we weren't. Oh, and despite everything above, I like this ad. A lot. I can't stop looking. And ultimately that's the point, right? ;-) 

Lesley RobertsComment