#912 Superette makes The Cut for death ads

Holy moly these new ads of Superette’s are doing the internet rounds overtime! And I mean overtime! with an exclamation mark because they’ve just shown up on New York Magazine’s‘ blog The Cut. Huge! If you haven’t already seen them, there are two, both with dead girls in frocks, both sporting the slogan ‘BE CAUGHT DEAD IN IT’. A quick Google search shows 795 dedicated entries already. Now that’s what I call a social media success story. First of all, good on them for spending some money and getting an actual ad agency (DDB) to create a campaign for them (an advertising expert estimated the cost at between 40 and 100k depending on media buys), and nice work on the controversy.

The copy accompanying the photo on The Cut reads: “This ad is for Auckland boutique Superette. The tagline is, “Be caught dead in it.” Oh man. A pun. We are just dying to shop there now. (Except not, obviously.)” So those aren’t particularly kind words, but surely that’s irrelevant because like Oscar Wilde said, “There’s only one thing worse than being talked about and that’s not being talked about”. I much prefer the above ad to the other one, possibly because I recognise the architecture in the background – if I’m not mistaken I believe it’s the Northern Club. Where all good young girls go to die.

In other Superette-related news, the store’s second outpost is opening this week on Ponsonby Road in the old Cyco space. No doubt something exciting will happen at the party tonight.


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  1. Gen says

    that’s exceptionally tasteless, as well as being a crude publicity grab by an overpriced and not especially exciting boutique.

  2. Gen says

    p.s Isaac, a bit of consistentcy wouldn’t go amiss.

    “like Oscar Wilde said, “There’s only one thing worse than being talked about and that’s not being talked about”

    That wasn’t what you were saying when Pammy was hitting up the catwalk at NZFW some weeks ago. Why do Superette get special treatment for this frankly quite tacky and revolting ad campaign?

  3. says

    Hi Gen, good question.

    Pamela Anderson may have done wonderful things for the Fashion Week organisers – she delivered worldwide press for their event.

    But if you were a designer showing at NZ Fashion Week, is that the sort of attention that you’d want? Or perhaps you’d be upset that any international attention you may have received would have been trumped by Pam’s mams. Any which way, my point was that it downgraded the tone of the event and the NZ industry as a whole.

    I think that Superette put out the ad knowing that they’d get a fairly wide range of responses to it. If that’s the image they want to put out for their brand, then more power to them. So in their case, any publicity would surely be good publicity.

    See the difference?

  4. Anonymous says

    As far as I know DDB did it for free because tasteless ‘shock’ campaigns like this seem to garner awards for some reason. The adspace was supplied free too, or at least most of it.

  5. Gen says

    No I don’t. And I don’t think you made any clear distinction between the two examples either.

    If Superette want to be known (internationally no less) for tacky, derivative advertising, I guess it’s good publicity. Not exactly a driver for people to purchase their product though (which is surely the end game?)

    Just as having a nasty washed up T & A girl stagger down the runway at NZFW wasn’t exactly a mastermind move either.

  6. Gen says

    shades of the Hell Pizza strategy Anon 3.06PM? How long til the ASA make them remove it I wonder? I suppose they’ll spin that as some sort of bollocks “win” as well. Soooo cutting edge.

  7. charlotte says

    i like them, particularly the first one, which is a complete copy of cecelia lisbon’s death in the virgin suicides, which is probably why i like them.

    the store however, marked up aussie labels, that’s why i don’t buy from there anymore.

  8. Anonymous says

    Man people leave some bitchy comments on your website. I see tall poppy syndrome is still alive and kicking in NZ

  9. Gen says

    it’s not tall poppy syndrome if the object of critcism is, in fact, rubbish.

    and it’s not bitchy to critique something. Man up.

  10. Anonymous says

    average scam ad…. anyone who thinks they’re great obviously has not seen advertising from 1984…. as there where heaps of puns then!!

  11. says

    Interesting debate. I e-mailed the ad campaign around work here & had an unlikely response from one person – Dayna. All it said was;
    “I like the orange dress”

    I had to laugh.

    There was absolutely no reference to the fact that the girl was impaled, whether the person liked/hated the ad campaign. All she saw and cared for was the garment.

    Interesting that she didn’t give two hoots about the campaign itself, so it’s (I assume) desired effect failed in that department, yet at the same time it still sold what it was supposed to – the clothes.

    Advertising seems to work regardless of the bore OR shock value.

    So props to Superette. They got a reaction & their brand in peoples faces, people are talking about them and NOT about the store down the road and if all the Dayna’s of the world saw that campaign, they are gonna have a hell of a lot more customers.


  12. Sarah says

    These are great. The photography is beautiful and they’ve obviously achieved what they set out to do.

    And Gen, yes, I’ve seen plenty of ads this year that don’t compare to these so I’m sure they blow those 1980s ads out of the water.

  13. Anonymous says

    A friends sister survived what the girl in the tangerine Alice Mcall dress has done and that was from a second story balcony.
    I am also pretty confident that there would be blood on the front of the dress and running down her neck.

    Was she wasted and fell or was she pushed? She doesn’t look old enough to drink so rufied and pushed after being abused maybe.

  14. Anonymous says

    in response to the above comment from anonymous 11:29 its a good point to bring up the fact that when hideous deaths are referenced merely to make a shock reaction there are always going to be those that get hurt who have experienced or witnessed something similar. as in the case of how suicide is used so casually and blantantly in modern life imagery and advertising, and those that have been through it suffer unnecessarily. its for these people that i feel sorry for and wish that they didnt have to feel the pain all over again when they least expect it because of some ad dickhead who thinks hes being funny.

  15. Anonymous says

    the ddb and all people behind this horrible publicity stunt should be ashamed and empailling their own brains for better ideas if there is a next time

  16. Anonymous says

    Interesting….. DDB doing it for free, this sort of thing actually happens quite often, this in turn means that the photographer, stylist, hairdresser and makeup artist and model all (most probably) did it for free too……

    The add agencies are making a creative killing (excuse the pun) out of jobs like this, as they get all the glory, whilst our talent slave it for free, with the promise that “we will put your name forward for the next big job that comes along”

    Shame on you Superette if you got this as a freebee, I sure would like to know more inside info.

  17. Anonymous says

    like anyone is going to want to buy THAT dress, hate the ad, makes me feel sick. the addition of the booze bottle = extra lame and over the top

  18. Anonymous says

    tasteLESS. i will never shop there again. and Isaac, i have to agree with Gen. both examples are essentially all about hype and publicity, regardless of the type. although you tried to justify your position as supportive of the ads whilst dismissing pam, i see them in the same boat.

    and the person who mentioned tall poppy syndrome, come on!! that’s such a terrible call – you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  19. Anonymous says

    So just because an ad agency puts out a great campaign, they must have done it for free??? . Get a life. Great ads guys and props to Superette and DDB for producing such a beautiful campaign.

  20. Angie says

    Anon 11:29 and 12:29.

    The champagne bottle is obviously there to show that she was drunk and fell rather than pushed or (abused).

    I love the way people get on their high horse when they think an ad is being using shock tactics but get over it folks this is our society today.

    Look at movies, art, photography and even novels. Do you think if this kind of image was in any of these it would be getting so much attention. I don’t think so.

    As far as the blood coming down the neck, this is an ad not a real situation therefor it’s been shot in a way to look beautiful rather than real. Blood running down the neck would have made it even more gory. Unnecessary I think.

    And if Superette did get it for free then good on them. Anyone who volunteered wouldn’t have been forced to work on it and I’m sure they all had their own reasons for doing it.

  21. Anonymous says

    @ Angie: “Look at movies, art, photography and even novels. Do you think if this kind of image was in any of these it would be getting so much attention. I don’t think so.”

    Probably not. The ‘beautiful corpse’ and our fascination with premature and violent death has long been a subject of artistic exploration. In those cases, though, it’s usually part of a greater work that is intended to explore questions about human nature. Not an attempt to sell us a frock.

    Adding a commercial imperative makes an image like this, no matter how beautifully executed (no pun intended) into a glamorisation of violence for profit.

  22. says

    Remember everyone I’m no longer allowing comments with swear words.

    But I just received this one which I’ll post with the swear words edited out:

    From anon…

    enough with the tall poppies already!
    why is everyone above using this as an excuse to counter-act a discussion?, DUH shame on you wingers/tall poppy police.
    if discussion dies so does a sustance to life. go back to your sex and the city box set and say something thats relevant. enough people hate this image and are upset by it to note that it is not quite as cool and influential as the creators – whether they got paid or not (boring)had intended. It has not been appealing to some that actually matter and have a relevant voice I.E not the general public, (of which you obviously are). how are your MAX trousers?, comfy? maybe one day you’ll quit your P.R job and be able to afford karen walker and stop whining on about the tall poppies of which you obviously want to be.

  23. Anonymous says

    Whether we like it or not ‘shockvertising’ is a growing trend.

    Using shock as a replacement for smart, sophisticated ideas is not the way to do it but a combination of the two makes a great ad.

    I think this campaign does that.

  24. Anonymous says

    The Cut reviews are terrible. All the international reviews are all bad. I do think this was a waste of money for superette.. very melaniepullen.com and American Idol shoot they did. Copying is wrong. that’s all.

  25. Anonymous says

    Well it does not have the same level of impact as impaling myself on a fence…. Which is so original and such a contribution …

  26. Anonymous says

    hey isaac whatever happened to those huuuuuuge pleated pants you had, you know the ones that looked like harem pants hahhhaha????

  27. Anonymous says

    Not sure who your ‘source’ is anon 3:06 but nothing was supplied for free. Nice try though, you wouldnt be from another agency would you?

  28. Anonymous says

    a bit cold!!?? the weather’s been getting progressively warmer! we won’t judge you if you’ve changed your mind about them…..hahah

  29. Anonymous says

    hey Isaac, are you still providing your personal shopping service? I’m rather in need of some advice for a fresh batch of Summer clothes…

  30. Anonymous says

    Possibly done on contra then? Oh how goody…..as much Stolen Girlfriends Club, Bassike and Sass & Bide I can get.

    Fair trade I’d say. You produce a below-par ad and I will trade you below-par clothes.

  31. Anonymous says

    1:18 – You just sound bitter to me. What have you done lately? Give it up with all your theories.

    Nice work Superette, bold move. I love them. Nice to see a fashion ad with an actual idea in it and not just looking pretty for pretty sake.

  32. Anonymous says

    Go Superette! We having been talking about the ads all morning at work and we love them. Bold move alright!

    Everyone else should stop bitching and go away and try and do some decent work themselves..

  33. Gen says

    Don’t presume to know what work I (or anyone else commenting on this blog) undertake. I’ve probably seen more ads in a professional capacity than you’ve had hot dinners.

    There are legitimate concerns about how this campaign has been staged. If you think that an objective critique of an advertisement targeted at teenage girls using violence/suicide as a theme is not worth commenting on (or is “bitchy”) perhaps you could find some other reading material?

  34. Anonymous says

    Gen don’t presume that the target market for this campaign was teenage girls. How many teenage girls do you know that can shop at Supertte?

    As for your professional capacity, using old cliches like (I’ve seen more ___ than you’ve had hot dinners) would make me presume that you’re a washed up old freelancer who can’t get any work.

  35. Gen says

    Loads of teenage girls shop at Superette, whenever I walk past it’s teaming with them (and their mothers). Isn’t that frock Alice McCall? That’s a very teeny brand for a start.

    Old – yes. Washed up – possibly. Freelancer – no. It is possible to be interested in fashion and not work in the industry.

    Lots of washed up old hags like me work in professional jobs to finance aforementioned clothes purchasing. Advertising like this makes us take our washed up old money elsewhere.

  36. Anonymous says

    The theme for this advertisement doesn’t appear to be violence or suicide.

    The champagne bottle has obviously been placed there to show she was drunk and fell from the balcony accidently.

  37. Anonymous says

    Wow, calm down everyone. Gen, do some work, it looks like you’ve been on here 2 days solid. Go feed your cats and have a nap already.

    Beautiful shots. Well done Charles.

  38. Anonymous says

    Gen it would help if you took as much time to understand the ads as you do to carefully ‘critique’ as you call it…. Then you might make more sense….

  39. Anonymous says

    Jees, people calm down. These ads are great. Really well shot which shows quality – plus they get the message across nicely.
    Don’t be hating.

  40. Anonymous says

    “How many teenage girls do you know that can shop at Superette?”.

    Ummm, loads.

    That’s where tiny tots progress to after the Supre stage.

    There is a reason why it has come to beknown as “Supre-ette”.

  41. Anonymous says

    “The theme for this advertisement doesn’t appear to be violence or suicide.”

    Then why is there blood stains under her wrists? To me this is an ugly and irresponsible ad. I do like the store and will probably shop there again, but not stoked on their decision to do this.

  42. Anonymous says

    Good call @ 5.24pm.

    It’s always full of Dio and Cuths girls with their Mummy’s buying them new shirt dresses to wear with leggings and Katmandu jackets…Some nice stuff there if you can reach the racks through the teeny-boppers though.

  43. Anonymous says

    Oh a lot of people really don’t like Superette do they? and with the strengthening Aussie dollar against the Kiwi, you haters will dislike them even more, cause there retail prices will be rising.

    I like it, the imagery is actually quite seemilngly reflective of peoples perception of the of the stores customer… stupid rich white girls, I find it rather amusing.

    Perhaps the news headlines would read:

    “Unnamed Girl, daughter of prominent Auckland business man falls to her death after last being seen in the toilets of an inner city gentle mans club, her family spokesperson say she did not drink or take drugs “

    Love it.

  44. Anonymous says

    Oh dont be like that, I bet you have been all over this blog all day….

    Go Superette, this campaign is definitely doing its job!

  45. Gen says

    The point of advertising is not just to get publicity. If it was, sure, this one has been moderately successful. First and foremost, ads should drive people to purchase your product and second it should create a favourable brand impression. I don’t think this one has done either.

    Apart from the rather crude shock tactic, I don’t think the message is especially well thought out. Saying “I wouldn’t be caught dead” in a garment suggests it is utterly unwearable/awful.

    Creating a campaign around the idea of “being caught dead” in a garment suggests that (a) it’s not as beyond the pale as something you’d dress a corpse in but it’s still pretty bad (b) it’s not something you’d wear if you were alive. Illogical and dumb as well as tasteless.

  46. KNK says

    I have just spent the last two months planning, traveling, shooting and editing a series of photographs that are influenced by Virgin Suicides (as is this shoot, obviously) This always happens to me when I get stuck in a rut with post-production… something else comes along. It is so, very frustrating!

  47. says

    This is brilliant, I think the amount of comments on this issue compared to Isaacs other posts speak for themselves. I’m sure at least 1 or 2 people are going to look out for superette and stick there head in because of this ad… So maybe job done here.

    The comments on here amuse me, there are always short, sarcastic and anonymous comments targeted at the people who post longer thought provoking comments.

    Good on you Gen for actually posting a comment that is worth reading and complements the post. Such is the beauty of blogging. Whether me or anyone else agrees with it is irrelevant.

    I was hoping more of the 73 comments would be in the same vein rather than “Agreed”, or “Sarcastic response 101”.

  48. kelly says

    woah woah woah I saw a link to this on pilot mag site and then I came here to see more about it and WTF! What is with all the haters? As a creative I think it is awesome that a store has gone the extra mile and played around and had fun and tried to bust out something eye catching to stand out from other stores. Who cares if you hate the shop/photographer/agency/world whatever how about we just say hey awesome good on you guys. The title “Be caught dead in it” isnt a comment on society or something deep and meaningful it is what it is. I dunno who killed Gens cat from Suprette, but Jesus relax!
    Sometimes people should stop being so anti

  49. Anonymous says

    Imagine you’re on a balcony.
    It gives way and you fall, plumeting to your death.
    Just before you hit the ground you look down and realise the last thing you will ever wear is some awful track pants and an oversized t shirt.

    The day you die is your last opportunity to wear something amazing and imagine all the attention you will be getting, you want to look your best.

    I think the point this ad is trying to make is wear something nice everyday because you never know when it will be your last.

  50. FranW says

    The message I see is that women exist only to look pretty, and as long as they look pretty and well-dressed it doesn’t matter if they’re alive or dead. Nice bit of misogyny there, fellas.

    I’ll be shopping elsewhere.

  51. Anonymous says

    Fran W…

    There is actually 3 ads in the campaign. Two featuring girls and the other a guy who dies a horrid death thanks to a malfunctioning elevator. So yeah, looks like us guys only exist to look pretty too.

  52. Anonymous says

    Well said Kelly! I agree that it is refreshing and brave of Superette to run with this campaign.

    Gen, time to adopt a new cat

  53. says

    Clever campaign? No. Tasteless campaign. When creativity exceeds all the boundaries of decency it becomes but a desperate attempt for publicity at any cost. Almost as if the young creative’s responsible for this campaign are hanging on to their jobs for grim death (ooops). I love the Kollective Kreativity of Kiwis (KKK). But this is just a tad gross. When some beautiful young woman is raped or slaughtered by a cretin whose mind is addled by the Methamphetimine, perhaps advertisers will think again.

    I know there are some smart creatives in New Zealand. Intelligent and talented individuals who can dream up some glorious campaigns without resorting to splatter tactics.

  54. Gen says

    Love how comments in this blog resort to personal attacks (from a position of blind ignorance) without engaging with any of the issues. (I did just buy a cat though.)

    Cheers for your comment Simon. While I don’t think these ads are anything special, I appreciate your position – maybe these ads will encourage some people to check out the stores. Equally though, I think there will be consumers like me who’ll be turned off shopping there.

    I guess whether Superette sees a net increase in sales is the only way to measure effectiveness.

  55. Gen says

    I’m concerned about the number of people who think everyone should say “wow awesome, good on you guys” to everything. How can we possibly encourage exception creative work when everything is “awesome” and all criticism is “tall poppy syndrome” (and anyone with functioning critical faculties is a washed up old hag with kitty issues). Please.

    Keep up the mediocrity kids, don’t mind me.

  56. Sam says

    I don’t think there is anything wrong in ‘resorting’ to splatter tactics. It’s part of the story telling. Would you prefer there was a pig with a jet pack or a star burst? I certainly wouldn’t. Each to their own I say. Love all the comments on here. It just proves that with anything, we all have different tastes. Oh and I checked out the other work the creatives on this job have done in the past Annie, I think you’ll find the ‘dreamt up glorious campaigns’ you have asked for may have already been achieved. I’ve also enjoyed your comments Gen but have to say, you have been a little harsh. What about the photography? I think it is stunning. What about the fact that there is an idea in these ads and remembering that it is for fashion, which is very hard to do. What about the fact that in 4 days there were over 900 dedicated Google entries. To me that is pretty cool. For us kiwis that kind of thing should be commended. It’s all good if you don’t like something, it’s just nice to mix it up a bit. Being constructive is an art. Maybe next time say all the bad things you want but just add something nice too.

    I’m not saying I agree with the ads, but they are ads and not a cure for Cancer. Take them for what they are.

    Nice work to all involved.

    Peace out.

  57. says

    More good points, Re: Sam I don’t think nessecarily “say all the bad things you want but just add something nice too” for the sake of it. Say all the bad things you want, as long as it is constructive. No one wants to here “you suck” but anyone is happy to hear what people do/don’t like/think should be done differently. As always my daily dose of irony comes from isaaclikes re: people logging on to the post to post comments saying “lets stop fussing over this”.

    Anon: Simon you are a smug self-righteous prat, you know nothing about fashion or anything else for that matter…

    – Just thought I would add my own abusive comment to myself to save anyone else the time 😛

  58. Sam says


    Totally agree with your comments. It was more of a suggestion to Gen as I don’t believe she knows how to be constructive. More destructive.

    That is all.

  59. says

    Gen, I think you are over analysing the meaning of the ad too much. The immediate message I got when I saw it is that you wouldn’t want to die in an ugly dress, so buy at Superette. Obviously the quote “wouldn’t be caught dead” doesn’t refer to Superette, but to the clothes one could have been wearing otherwise.

    As for your anger towards the campaign. I think it is justified but perhaps focusses in the wrong direction. Superette isn’t a person. It’s just a company, which cares about its profits alone and its reputation. An ad campaign is short lived, and realistically can;t really damage its reputation too much. Just look at Kate Moss’s cocaine incident. That hardly gets mentioned any more. I think, in this case, all publicity is good publicity.

    If people worked to not accept advertisements like these, made an uproar and refused to shop there, then something would actually be done. Superette has no moral obligation, it’s not a moral being.

    But I do agree with you. The picture with the impaled girl I find particularly disturbing because I know of someone that has happened to. I wouldn’t want to see it anywhere near me and would probably complain

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