Only the Brave

Diesel Fragrances wanted to introduce their new product, Only The Brave, to consumers in a new and inventive way. Diesel is already known for their audacious and convention-challenging marketing and as such, they needed something truly revolutionary to help bring the new product to market.

By way of an integrated, national 360-campaign, Sub Rosa saw Diesel break the men's fragrance industry record for most sales during a launch period, making Only The Brave one of the best-selling fragrances in history.

Client Conversation


Diesel and L’Oréal came to Sub Rosa looking for something entirely other than the traditional fragrance launch “playbook”. They wanted edge, difference, and decided bravery. With very few limitations on the creative process, they simply sought big ideas and a strategic thread – which is a truly inspiring way to build ideas.


In preliminary research, we discovered something unexpected: that most consumers associated “bravery” with militantism or authorities, which – while understandably subjective – was surely not the direction Diesel sought for its positioning. Therefore, the audience perception of “bravery” needed to be changed.

Our Work


Building upon this insight, Sub Rosa developed a campaign to redefine bravery. By considering the human body conceptually, we identified three core areas that one needs to refine in order to be brave: the “heart”, the “mind”, and the “nerve.”

These three characteristics became the pillars of the campaign which was then rolled out across media and states.

We began by producing a triptych video, that watched independently, it provided three unique stories. However watched collectively, this video became a 4th video – one were symbolism took on new meanings and a deeper, more evolved story about bravery came to life. The video was launched on an unbranded website called “” and art and design blogs drove traffic as they started to discover this strange video and an open, unvetted form field where anyone could answer the prompt “_______ is brave.”

After a week of buzz, the curtain came up on the campaign and revealed Diesel as the mastermind behind the discussion of bravery. In 20 markets around the U.S., a highly targeted outdoor media campaign launched and drove traffic to the site (which at this point now also offered the ability to purchase the fragrance). In addition, guerrilla street teams were deployed around major markets to find non-traiditional venues to depict messages from the campaign. One such effort which utilized the shape of the fragrance’s bottle — a clenched fist — projected “Be Brave” and the fist on the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. This stunt caught the attention of local media and the launch was subsequently covered in the pages of all major New York newspapers.

In addition to these outdoor tactics, the campaign needed something that furthered the conversation and continued to link the ideals of bravery to the art and design community that was a core part of the brand’s target. As such, Sub Rosa partnered with the Keystone Design Union to bring together a group of over 40 artists from 30 countries to create a one-night-only gallery show all centered around the theme of bravery. Located in SoHo, the event drew massive crowds and many of the works became viral hits — garnering their own press and further pushing awareness from the launch into publications such as Juxtapose, Wallpaper and the like.

After the New York event, the installation moved to Miami’s Wynwood arts district and then to Diesel’s flagship shop in Los Angeles. These events brought a new and exciting perspective on bravery to consumers around the country and helped Diesel’s Only The Brave become the fastest growing fragrance — hitting the #1 mark on the sales charts in only 4 short months.


The buzz for this campaign delivered 800 million earned media impressions and accelerated sales for the brand to a high water mark that still is regarded as one of the best launches in the fragrance industry. It is cited regularly within the industry as an exemplary model for non-traditional fragrance launches.