Oh, Ferrari. You make such lovely, fast cars. But, damn, are you in some serious denial right now. The Italian automaker is currently involved in a stupid tiff with a wealthy German fashion designer whose aesthetic sensibilities seem to be based on the result of mixing Red Bull and puréed Euro notes with the collected crotch sweat from a Berlin discotheque. Ferrari wants the designer, Philip Plein, to remove pictures of his own cars from his Instagram account, because they feel his feed “tarnishes the reputation of Ferrari’s brands.”
Ferrari, you deluded fools: this kind of wealth-can’t-buy-taste shit is the reputation of Ferrari’s brands.
Here’s a sample of one of the images Ferrari finds troubling:
Those are Plein’s shoes sitting there on his matching electro-lime green 12-cylinder Ferrari 812 Superfast. Sure, he’s using the car as a prop to suggest the sort of associations he wants with his shoes, but he’s not actually using Ferrari’s branding on the shoes themselves.
Cars as props in fashion shoots and advertising are incredibly common, and the car’s badging is often visible. Look, here’s a bunch of examples from, like, ten seconds of Googling:
All of those have visible branding from various carmakers, and unless the Anthropologie company is in constant legal battles with car brands that it’s not telling anyone about, this all seems to be just fine.
Here’s some more of Plein’s use of his Ferrari—and his Lamborghini Urus— as props for his shoes, along with a woman wasting perfectly good alcohol. Or, wait, is that a champagned bottle-shaped garden hose nozzle? Regardless:
In response to Plein’s use of his cars in his Instagram posts, Ferrari’s lawyers sent him this letter:
Ferrari’s letter states, in part:
“In these pictures, Ferrari’s trademarks ore used again for promotional purposes of your brand and products, unlawfully appropriating the goodwill attached to them. You behaviour, however is even more harmful and serious in this case.
Ferrari’s trademarks and model cars are associated in your pictures with a lifestyle totally inconsistent with Ferrari’s brand perception, in connection with performers making sexual innuendos and using Ferrari’s cars as props in a manner which is per se distasteful.
This behavior tarnishes the reputation of Ferrari’s brands and causes Ferrari further material damage.”
The letter also demands the posts be removed within 48 hours, which has not happened.
What makes this so delicious to watch, as an outsider, is that if Ferrari thinks that its brand image and reputation are not irretrievably associated with ostentatious and tasteless displays of wealth and sexuality, it’s fucking insane.
Ferrari, these are your customers! This is the image you’ve been cultivating for decades. Don’t try to pretend you’re somehow above all this shit—you are this shit.
I reached out to Ferrari for comment, as well as to Lamborghini, which is also prominently featured in Plein’s images but have so far had the sense to just keep cool about it. I sent the emails two days ago, and have received no response as of press time.
We also reached out to Plein via Instagram and will update if we get a response.
Besides, Ferrari should consider itself lucky, all things considered. It just has to deal with some blingy douchebag with the taste of a horny 12-year-old that won the lottery. Think about companies like Toyota, which have their very clearly branded trucks popping up in nearly every video about ISIS and other terrorist groups.
I mean, compared to that, how big a deal is this, Ferrari?
I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t really comment on what legal case Ferrari actually has here. I am a human being, though, so I can at least laugh at Ferrari and its impressive level of self-deception when it comes to what they think their “brand perception” is really all about.
Ferrari, Philip Plein’s Instagram account isn’t a perversion of your brand—it’s a mirror. Just take these people’s damn money and embrace it.