Point and Laugh at this Terrible Ray-Ban Ad Campaign

Deafheaven and Ray-Ban collaborate to donate cringe across the planet.

From the first time I saw 1986’s homoerotic volleyball thriller/military propaganda tool Top Gun, I’ve held it as an inviolable truth that Ray Bans make you look really fucking cool. Likewise, from the first time I cast my eyes in Acclaimed Metal Vocalist George Clarke‘s direction, I’ve been steadfast in my belief that Deafheaven is really fucking cool. “RAY BANS”, reads my left pectoral muscle. “DEAFHAVEN,” unfortunately misspelled on my right pec. These two chest tattoos guide me on my daily path to cool nirvana. Unfortunately, after seeing this recent Ray-Ban + Deafheaven advertising campaign, my faith in the relative coolness of both parties has been shaken to its core.

Luxottica-owned Ray-Ban launched an extremely ambitious advertising campaign, curiously titled #ItTakesCourage. Through this campaign, the company “encourages Ray-Ban users to be courageous in their own lives,” which is a thoroughly meaningless thing to do. For some reason, I don’t see consumers whose only common trait is a tendency to incinerate $180 for a basic pair of sunglasses suddenly engaging in civil disobedience on behalf of disadvantaged groups. But I digress.

Why Publicis, the megaglobal advertising behemoth behind this campaign, decided #ItTakesCourage would be an appropriate concept for selling sunglasses, is a mystery to me. The campaign is clearly co-opting activist language to add emotional weight to ads for luxury sunglasses. For such a heavy-handed concept, it’s surprising the creative team didn’t go further with their print ads. Here, I made one for you:

You're welcome. I'll bill you for the hours.
Which brings us to an unexpected but fitting bedfellow for luxury consumer goods: Deafheaven. This California black metal band has enraged metal purists endlessly since the release of 2013’s pink-covered ode to desperately wanting a luxury-filled lifestyle, Sunbather. The band’s conventionally handsome frontman, with his stylish clothes and hair, is a typical target for vitriol. In the context of an ad campaign, George Clarke is an excellent model. Perhaps the campaign should have settled for aesthetically pleasing photography of The Greatest Wizard‘s supple frame and withering good looks instead of releasing this amusing mess of branded content disguised as a Deafheaven profile. This shiny shitshow is wrapped up in a vague concept of “FACE CRITICS.” From the very start the profiler swings for the fences:

When George Clarke was a 16-year-old punk growing up in Modesto, Calif., he had this trick. It involved a tiny flame. Before school, or occasionally there in the hallway, he would take a lighter to his sharpened black stick of eyeliner—typically procured from the local Sally Beauty Supply—in order to make it blear on thicker, like charcoal. (Liquid eyeliner was too complicated: “We were brutish and didn’t take our time.”) A spiritual descendant of such goth luminaries as Bauhaus and the Cure, Clarke wore black eyeshadow as well. He did not care when classmates disapproved. “It always ended with this bitter thought,” he recalls now with a knowing laugh, “‘You’re stupid and I’m not, you don’t get what I’m doing. And that’s your fault, not mine.’”

I bet “Teenage Punk Wears Makeup, Shocks Peers” was a pretty thrilling headline in the 70s.

(On a whim, I ask Clarke about opera, and he enthusiastically recounts how he and Deafheaven bassist Stephen Clark were recently discussing Pavarotti—“how serene opera can be even though it’s so dramatic.”)

****DEAFENING FART NOISES**** So dramatic. So serene, you guys.

With that, it has been well documented that Deafheaven’s awed and blackened dreamscape has often appeared to the chagrin of black metal purists. From behind their computer screens, these keyboard-critics find that Deafheaven sully the genre’s sanctity by making it more palatable—by taking a purposefully unapproachable form of music and making it accessible, by commodifying an underground art, by making it inclusive rather than exclusive, by swapping out its mystique for a clearly-defined face, by effectively complicating it. (“The whole idea is tired to me,” Clarke sighs.)

I am hardly a Deafheaven detractor. I chose New Bermuda as my favorite record of 2015. As a matter of fact, I think it’s awesome that these fellas can actually make some money in a field that generally rewards years of hard work with endless kicks in the ass. Many in the internet blogosphere have been unnecessarily cruel towards the band. BUT LET’S GET REAL FOR A SECOND. Deafheaven are hardly the first band to create dreamy, shoegaze-influenced black metal. They are, however, the first to accept a very public, very sloppy blowjob from a luxury sunglasses manufacturer.

The biggest rule Deafheaven have broken, in Clarke’s eyes, is in their willingness to be incredibly vulnerable.

No, stop.

As a band, Deafheaven always remind me of a mantra from ambient master Brian Eno, one he shared in the 1993 film Imaginary Landscapes: “Go to an extreme and then retreat to a more useful position.” In learning from the extremes of black metal, but refusing to limit the breadth of their imagination or the fullness of their heart, Deafheaven have effectively raised the stakes of a strident sound.

Thank you for your shockingly pretentious interjections, Person Who Is Profiling Deafheaven.

Every aspect of this ad campaign, from the tortured writing, to the problematic hashtag, to the throwback 90s imagery of print ads, is bad. There are so many moving pieces that the campaign is almost impressive in its twitching wreck of directionless ambition. I hope whoever wrote this horrible “FACE CRITICS” creative brief is prepared to face the very real criticism of this campaign: It’s hella lame, dude.

I’m still a fan of Deafheaven’s music, but I’m glad these ads have turned me off of Ray-Bans. It’s foolish to spend more than $20 on a pair of sunglasses, anyway. They’re bound to get destroyed in the pit.

Written by:

Published on: August 10, 2016

Filled Under: News, Opinion

Views: 1352

Tags: , , , , ,

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Saw this yesterday, and I’ll leave it at that.

  • Super Nintendo Chalmers


  • “Ray-Ban” If you can’t say it, you can’t do it.


  • Celtic Frosty

    BE YOURSELF (if you can afford it) – Ray Ban

  • ME GORAK!!!™
  • Celtic Frosty

    BE AN INDIVIDUAL (and wear these sunglasses that every other white person in America wears) – Ray Ban

    • Full disclosure: I own many knockoff Ray-Ban Wayfarers. I have spent no more than $10 per pair.

      • Celtic Frosty

        My wife bought me a pair of Ray-Bans as a wedding gift. They’re the best sunglasses I’ve ever owned.

        But yeah, I wouldn’t just go out and pay that much for a pair on my own.

        • If someone wanted to GIVE me a pair, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down (ATTN: LUXOTICCA), but there’s no way I throw down that kinda dough.

          • JWEG

            I only know how nice Oakleys are for a related reason: my Mum found a pair on a beach in Maui that someone had left behind.

            As a pair of ‘mens’ shades she thought first to give them to me, but when I pointed out the redundancy given my own transitional prescription lenses, she kept them for herself.

      • People that spend more than $20 dollars on sunglasses put Ranch Dressing on their pizza.

        • People that spend more than $20 on sunglasses film themselves lip syncing to the radio in their cars.

          • That sounds like it would be right up Randall Thor’s alley.

        • I’ve recently been having heated arguments with coworkers about ranch on pizza. They all love it and I find it fucking despicable.

          • Dubbbz

            People who put ranch on pizza should be sent to Guantanamo.

          • more beer

            Water boarding isn’t punishment enough for that!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            You are so wrong.

          • Brutalist_Receptacle

            FRANCH ®

          • InfinityOfThoughts

            You make me sad 🙁

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          Curse you! I love ranch on pizza and I spent 28 dollars on my sunglasses.

          • So his assessment is totally correct.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan


        • InfinityOfThoughts

          Ranch dressing on chicken pizza is the food of the gods…

          Now I’m hungry

      • Ted Nü-Djent ™

        I wear a pair of 3M safety glasses as sunnies, I paid $0.00 for them

  • Joaquin Stick

    I was really hoping someone was going to critique Clarke’s face. Gotta cover both potential meanings of “Face Critics”.

  • I always thought the idea of spending more than $10 on a pair of sunglasses just meant you were trying too hard to impress people. But then again, I wear $15 sams club blue jeans. So I am hardly out to impress.

  • Ray-Ban? Moar like Way-Bland!!!

  • RustyShackleford


    *realizes he hasn’t left the house or showered in the past 24 hours and just been sweating on the couch playing No Man’s Sky*



    • *yeps*

      • we get it, you yep

        (can’t take credit for this joke, it was … one of the FB guise)

  • Megan Alexandra

    Is this real? This is AWFUL. This is so fucking awful! My body hurts from cringing.

  • Megan Alexandra

    Also I have, foolishly, lost ray bans in the pit. I deserved it.

  • Howard Dean

    Holy fuck, I was literally 3/4 of the way through this before I finally realized that this was real, and not satire–that Deafheaven is actually shilling for Ray-Ban, and Ray-Ban is actually giving them a passionate reach-around. Too strange. Much surreal. Wow.

    Also, since when did Jack Black throw on horn-rimmed glasses and join this band?

    • He appears to be no longer thin

      • Ranch Dressing pizza will do that.

        • The 5 star luxury black metal life. No more Totino’s pizza rolls for him.

          • Super Nintendo Chalmers

            Totinos Pizza Rolls aren’t exactly the secret dietary solution to being skinny.

            I should know.

          • His fat game is above the poverty line now because of the influx of dat Ray-Ban paper!!!!

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain


      • Howard Dean

        All that sweet endorsement skrilla. Deafheavy been hitting up that Golden Corral, son.

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      That’s not Jack Black. This is just a tribute

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    I would totally buy some FFDP branded Oakley Blades

  • Deafheaven is small potatoes for this marketing campaign. Ante up some royalty paper and co-opt this hit. #ItTakesCourage

  • Abradolf Lincler

    theres a kid who works the register at my ghetto ingles that lpoks loke George Clarke. i told him so.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    This is a man that wears Ray-Bans properly

    • Brutalist_Receptacle


      • Señor Jefe El Rosa


    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      Sorry Boss

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    But yeah, 20 bucks tops. I have a pair from Germany that cost me 1 euro, work just fine.

  • Waynecro

    This whole thing feels like a second-year advertising student’s end-of-the-quarter project. Seriously. Did Ray-Ban poach this campaign from an advertising college? From the clunky concept to the overly dramatic, highly pretentious writing, everything about this campaign just reminds me of a student with far too much self-confidence trying way too hard.

    • Backed. I went to ad school. Had I submitted this, my first year portfolio professor would have beaten me with a Pantone swatch book.

      • Lol

      • Waynecro

        I had one professor who often muttered, “Jesus Christ. I better offer extra credit” whenever he saw a campaign like this one.

    • Elegant Gazing Globe

      It’s actually a pretty good execution of a campaign looking to reach aspirationals.

      • Waynecro

        That’s a fair point. There is definitely a group of people who will probably eat this shit up. I’d love to know the precise target market the company was after (and read the demographic data they gathered about that market).

      • This execution is muddled. Between the campaign hashtag, and the sub-campaigns, and the COMPLETELY off-tone print work, none of this feels cohesive. But my biggest beef is that the writing in this profile is hot ass garbage.

        • Elegant Gazing Globe

          Fortunately, for Ray Bans, their target customers are sheep who just wanna look cool and identify with some pop culture icons and dgaf about how clunky the advertising is.

          • Man, I feel like they coulda just saved a bundle of time and money by hiring a celebrity as a model rather than putting together all of this pretentious garbage. The pitch deck would have been far less full of bullshit. BUT WHAT DO I KNOW.

          • Elegant Gazing Globe

            Really gotta work hard to make such an old hat brand look hip again.

        • Waynecro

          I absolutely hate the writing, which was probably plagiarized from some teenager’s LiveJournal page. I mean, I’m sure some people (i.e., butthurt millennials) will be terribly impressed by it, but it’s just awful–and that’s coming from someone’s who’s had to write a lot of advertorials and suck-ass profile pieces to satisfy self-absorbed advertisers who think they’re hot shit with impressively beefy genitals.

        • Stockhausen

          Yeah, and the “Face Critic” thing is just confusing at best. Are we critiquing Acclaimed Metal Vocalist George Clarke of Deafheaven’s face? Faces in general? Courageous faces? Faces of overblown idiot writers?

    • Eliza

      The emphasis on the word “takes” in the hashtag is so confusing. You’d think the word they’d want to stand out was “courage”, but whatever.

  • Afford Ray-Bans? #ItTakesDuckets

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    If I spent that much money for each pair of sunglasses I own, the reptilians running Ray-Ban would be millionaires…

  • JWEG

    For my money (none of which I’ve actually spent on really expensive sunglasses, though) Oakley are the far better brand. I’ll stick with the transitional lenses in my prescription specs, though. As much expense, but far far more practical.

    Unrelated note, I’m listening to this while browsing this afternoon:


    • I feel that, having prescription lenses is an enough daily pain in the ass.

      • JWEG


        I’ve only ever lost one lens (not even the whole pair) out of a frame while in a jam packed crowd at a show, though. So maybe I’m just lucky.

  • Holy crap, this is plain bad.

    Malo, malo, malo, chicos de Deafheaven. The gold greed betrayed the band this time.

    I remembered this song with this, lolz.


  • RJA

    this is one of the more embarrassing things I’ve seen in a while – thanks Joe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Png-PC0ews

  • It’s just trying so fucking hard, man.
    Just trying so hard.

  • Ayreonaut

    This band sucks

    • Brutalist_Receptacle


  • 365ChaosRiddenDays

    Here we are

  • Max

    Hey! Disco Stu doesn’t advertise.

  • Count_Breznak

    Too easy

  • This is…ack

  • Brock Lesner’s Oily Wonderbra

    I wear my Ray Ban glasses at night, so no one can actually see me wear them, and because I enjoy bumping into things full force.


  • The Mighty Thorange

    I actually quite like Deafheaven but Jesus turd-fucking Christ this is just bad for everyone involved. I feel tainted just by looking at these. http://i.makeagif.com/media/11-29-2015/RuCh3i.mp4

  • Eliza

    Definitely read the article linked at the beginning of the post (http://www.ray-ban.com/usa/courage/face-critics/deafheaven?cid=OM03_160808-deafheaven_TW). It’s hilarious.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    always enjoyed the view coming down from Wolf Laurel