Diesel presents ‘Francesca’: A story celebrating transgender and faith

Diesel presents ‘Francesca’: A story celebrating transgender and faith

The Background

It’s Pride month. 

And in a normal year, we’d be celebrating LGBTQ+’s love for the whole 30 days. Straight people included, I like to think. 

But we're not, because the world has gone bananas.

In amongst all this craziness, the fight for equal rights has to prevail. 

And that’s an absolute truth. 

And amongst many other institutions doing so, a few bold brands keep charging on full throttle.

Like Diesel.

The Big Idea

In its most human dimension, this is an acceptance story.

That is the central theme throughout the film and it is even clearer at the end when the other sisters accept Francesca.

This film is an ode to normalisation. 

Everything we see in this spot is a ‘normal’ transition and the things that a transgender goes through in his or her daily life.

I particularly like the subtle fact that, after the gender reassignment surgery, Francesca can now be seen sited in the toilet. And most importantly, the message that when one of the most rigid institutions on this planet accepts a woman – once a man – as a nun, said normalisation is complete.

What They Did

Publicis Italy brought in renowned director François Rousselet, that has previously worked with several artists like Madonna, Kanye West, Snoop Dog and Iggy Azalea to name a few, in their musical clips. 

The spot does have a 90s MTV video clip aesthetic and I think it serves it well. 

It also brings a bit of that old Benetton-style controversy to the table that acts as a cathartic liberation and not just a cheap ‘in-your-face’ shock. 

But because of all this, I feel like I have seen this spot before. There is a sense of familiarity with it that puzzles me. Which, for the most part, I think is good given that there’s absolutely no tension in this film. 

There’s no big dramas, no family fights, no college bullies and no nightclub violence aimed towards Francesca. Love that. 

It took balls (no pun intended) to not go the easy route and present Francesca’s story with the lovely nuances that come with a real-life story: the laser depilation, the endless oestrogen pills, the change of clothes, the expected wink throughout the film, from more masculine to more feminine, the first unsuspected flirts. 

I’d probably have dialled up the Church’s rigidity, sparse out during the film for an even bigger payoff, both to Francesca and the viewer. But maybe it was not needed.

The Review

It’s a triumph. 

As stated, in a normal year this would have made an even bigger splash, but it is what it is and it’s still out there playing its role in normalisation and representing transgender rights all over the world. 

A tad too close, as said, to Benetton’s style of the late 90’s and early 2000’s but it doesn’t bother me one bit. 

Much like Francesca, a beautiful woman.

In Hindsight

We need more of this type of work. 

The no drama, no bullshit, celebratory and larger than life type of stories. 

And the truth is, we don’t need to drop the risk factor in doing so.

We can continue to push some buttons to get our message across. 

But it doesn’t have to be in a negative way.

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