Publicis Italy’s Mihnea Gheorghiu on linking Diesel up with the iconic Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap
The ‘collaboration’ is a mainstay of the fashion industry today. The likes of Supreme have linked up with The North Face and Louis Vuitton, Gosha Rubchinskiy with Burberry and adidas, H&M with Versace, and so on. Even Crocs dropped a selection with Balenciaga. But while that might cause raised eyebrows, it isn’t as surprising as Diesel’s latest link-up, launched in line with the Bread && Butter fashion event. The brand, as part of a cheeky initiative dreamt up by its agency Publicis Italy, has collaborated with Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap, Berlin’s most famous and celebrated kebab stall that boasts round-the-clock queues of people hunting out his meaty virtues.
Obviously, there is some irony involved in the whole thing - much like Diesel’s ‘Deisel - Go With The Fake’ campaign from earlier this year - but the brand has actually launched a line of clothing with Mustafa’s. It sold out at Bread && Butter but there’s still a small amount of merch available online on the Diesel site.
LBB’s Addison Capper - a former resident of Berlin who has spent many an hour queuing at Mustafa’s - needed to know more. He spoke to Mihnea Gheorghiu, global creative director for Diesel at Publicis Italy, to get the full story behind the campaign and his honest review of Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap.
LBB> It doesn’t take a great deal of research into Berlin to find out about Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap - but at what point in the creative process did you become aware of the stand and why was it the perfect fit for the campaign?
Mihnea> From the very start, our aim was to poke fun at the street fashion collaborations, while still creating a cool product. We knew it would happen in Berlin, so we searched for the strangest local brands, from thrift stores, to tattoo parlours and hardcore nightclubs. Luckily, we had all sinned in Berlin before, so Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap made it top of the list almost instantly. In the end, we went to the client with two finalists – a currywurst spot and Mustafa. Then it took about five seconds for everyone to agree that Mustafa was the best option. Firstly, because even people who hadn’t tried the kebab knew it was amazing. Secondly, the style department really liked his logo. Finally, it’s kebab. You never say no to kebab.
LBB> What was the process like of getting Mustafa involved? Was he on board quite quickly?
Mihnea> DIESEL contacted him immediately. He was on vacation in Turkey. When he got back, he thought it was a mistake. He called DIESEL to even tell them: “I think it’s a mistake, I make kebaps.”
And DIESEL said: “Nope, no mistake. You’re exactly the person we were looking for.” He was super excited to join to the project, plus he’s such a great character.
LBB> Did he have much involvement in the design of the actual clothes?
Mihnea> He was the inspiration for the entire collection. Of course he had to approve it, but the DIESEL style department did a great job in preserving and applying his branding on a versatile DIESEL look.
LBB> With regards to the design, where did you look for inspiration for them? Obviously the whole thing is quite ironic, but how does the collection embody both Mustafa’s and Diesel?
Mihnea> From the moment we presented the idea, the style department at DIESEL went nuts. We saw seen over 20 proposals before they landed on the actual designs. I wouldn’t know exactly what inspired them along the way, or how many kebabs they’ve had, we just let them do their magic.
LBB> What was the shoot like? Did you shoot during a normal, busy day at Mustafa’s?
Mihnea> Any normal day is a busy day at Mustafa’s. If you just look at the line, you’d think the next iPhone came out. Everyone was excited to meet the man behind the legend. And he’s amazing in front of the camera. At B&&B he gave a lot of autographs.
LBB> Thinking back to the ‘Deisel’ campaign, Diesel isn’t new to poking fun at the industry that it’s a part of. What’s the thinking behind this strategy for the brand?
Mihnea> Let’s celebrate flaws and mistakes. Let’s make our own fake brand. Let’s collaborate with a kebap kiosk for one of the coolest street fashion events in the world. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. Every DIESEL campaign we’ve done marks the funeral of dozens, sometimes hundreds of ideas that came before it. It can’t be crazy for the sake of it, or people won’t care about it. It needs to have meaning. It needs to challenge something everyone’s doing, or something people are tired of seeing/doing, or don’t even realise that they are tired of seeing/doing. It needs to poke at the world’s nonsense with a stick. Otherwise it’s not DIESEL.
LBB> What kind of reaction have you seen to this campaign?
Mihnea> People seem pretty excited about the collaboration. Bread&&Butter was sold out. There are some pieces left for e-commerce and select stores.
LBB> Give us your review of Mustafa’s döner.
Mihnea> I’m Romanian and when you grow up there, shawarma is love, shawarma is life. It’s like the kebab, but with a Romanian twist: it’s a bouquet of decadence, with meat (chicken, beef, lamb or sometimes pork), fries, vegetables and lots of sauces all wrapped in a tortilla-like bread. It’s an undercover heart attack. It’s amazing. So, my favourite kebabs will always be in Bucharest. But I can tell you Mustafa’s is definitely in my top five. Just one thing: I’d recommend getting the wrap if you have the chance, you can really taste the meat and the gemüse (vegetables) and the sprinkled cheese and the sauces. Thanks. Now I’m hungry.