Spring 2020 Ad Campaign with Mahershala Ali & Nicholas Tse by Fabien Baron
Ermenegildo Zegna Artistic Director Alessandro Sartori, and Baron & Baron Creative Director Fabien Baron have come together to create a campaign that asks the question #WHATMAKESAMAN. The result is a continuation of the brand’s Fall 2019 campaign of the same name, which also featured two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and multifaceted actor, singer and entrepreneur Nicholas Tse.
The new campaign’s first film directed by Baron and featuring Mahershala Ali states “It’s easy to be confused, much harder to know what to do.” This is an apt description of thoughts and feelings that the campaign elicits. The campaign purposefully does not provide answers to the questions it poses, or offers philosophical principles such as purpose, awareness, and responsibility as the solutions; this approach worked for the first installment in 2019, because the videos of Ali and Tse ended with disclaimers through the voice-overs: “That’s what I believe, what about you?” This new campaign does not provide such an easy out, and so the viewer is forced to ask the question: Zegna talks the talk, but do they walk the walk?
Each person has to answer that question for themselves, based on their own values. What is Zegna doing well? The company appears to be embracing inclusivity by casting two actors from diverse backgrounds: Ali the American son of a Baptist minister and a Broadway actor, and Tse was born in Hong Kong to parents who were both film actors. Also, the company displays a keen awareness of environmental issues through the film’s setting of an industrial wasteland, and through the questions the film it poses: “It’s a choice…it rests in your hands, so do you use the power in your hand to destroy, or to care?”
Powerful questions indeed, and from a certain perspective, it is commendable that companies like Zegna are starting to ask these questions. At the same time, using these important questions to sell products raises even more philosophical questions. Why? Asking the questions and deciding to care are only the first steps. Global manufacturers have to make systematic changes in order for real progress to be made, both in the realm of human rights and global ecology. There are a lot of people out there who do care, and those people wish to see evidence of positive changes displayed front and center. So that ideally, we can move beyond philosophical answers to more factual ones.
Ermenegildo Zegna Artistic Director | Alessandro Sartori Agency | Baron & Baron Creative Director | Fabien Baron Director | Fabien Baron Photographer | Josh Olins Talent | Mahershala Ali & Nicholas Tse