This ad for Armani baby diapers is going around the Internet. But is it a real example of the ridiculousness that can ensue when a fashion designer licenses his name to make a quick buck? Or an artful prank on the credulous online media?
There are arguments for both: the purported ads are featured on a Web site, armanirussia.ru, that — slightly weird URL aside — is visually indistinguishable from the international armani.com site (although if you select Russia as your country when loading armani.com, the site sends you to armani.com/ru, not armanirussia.ru). But while the armanirussia.ru landing page looks like you would expect, the link to the actual product page for the diapers is dead. And isn't the whole concept of Armani selling diapers, only in the Russian market, and for a reported €23, a tad unbelievable?
On the other hand: in the world of fashion licensing, strange things can happen. If you want to talk unlikely products, Valentino once made toilet-seat covers stamped with the brand's logo. After a license is granted, sometimes even the designers themselves are surprised by the products on which the brand name ends up emblazoned. The New Yorker happened to be visiting Donatella Versace when the designer spotted an ad for a tacky, pink Versace watch, placed in American Vogue by a licensee. Versace burst into tears when she saw it.
And, after the online ad showing Armani-diapered babies clambering around started eliciting comment on fashion and mommy blogs, we got a tip this morning purporting to show the ad (tag-line: "When only the best is good enough") running in print in an issue of Russian Tatler. (But given that it apparently ran adjacent to an ad for a Kermit the Frog fine jewelry collection, we're somewhat less than convinced this is real and not Photoshop.)
So, pretty good fake or embarrassing real thing? We've reached out to Armani find out which. Developing...