If you've flipped through Esquire or GQ recently—or even Time's Style & Design supplement last week (which is surprisingly much, much better than T)—you'd have seen that bewildering "Great Minds Think Alike" two-pager by Italian suit specialists Ermenegildo Zegna. In it, four basically indistinguishable guys appear to be standing single-file on an airport moving sidewalk. One presumes they are dressed quite nicely, but it's really impossible to tell from the image, since it's so overwhelmed by a bizarre Twilight Zone conceit: everyone's reading the Financial Times!

Inexplicable Ad Campaign Close-Read: Ermenegildo Zegna Dons 'FT' Halo


Don't get us wrong, we certainly appreciate the power of profession-centric aspirational marketing. But while, say, architects are actually sometimes thought of as smart and cool and pouty, does any junior executive get into the finance game because he really, really loves the idea of being seen with the associated periodicals?

Also, what exactly about this ad suggests "great minds"? Insomuch as you would want a broker/husband/patron who's up on the FT dish, wouldn't that imply a man soberly poring over commodity prices and exchange rate analyses? Nope, says Zegna: the maintenance of capitalism doesn't even require basic literacy.

What is the doofus third-from-our-left laughing about? Like his compatriots, he holds the July 7, 2006 issue of FT. The lead story is "Tobacco groups win key Florida court case." Ha! Another front-page article reports that the European Central Bank "holds rates but indicates August rise." Hilarious! But maybe something more grin-inducing is inside the paper? Let's take a closer look!

Inexplicable Ad Campaign Close-Read: Ermenegildo Zegna Dons 'FT' Halo

Yes, that would be "7/7 — A Year On." You know, about the terrorist subway bombings.

As far as we can tell, the Financial Times itself has nothing to do with the campaign; this ain't brand synergy, just menswear cognitive dissonance. One imagines that somewhere in Naples, Kiton is buying up back issues of Barron's as we speak.

Zegna [Click on "ADV Campaign S S07" for a deeply homosocial video that explains nothing.]