Tastemaker: Ducati's David Gross

10.22.2008

By Noah Michelson


Photo: Spencer Heyfron

Out's November issue showcases our annual Tastemakers portfolio which highlights the hippest arbiters of style currently leading the charge at the forefront of the nation's ongoing cultural revolution.

From fashion phenoms to trendy restaurateurs to dance company directors, these men's impeccable taste and sensibility make our lives simpler, prettier, happier, and richer. We'll feature a new Tastemaker each day, beginning with Ducati's creative director David Gross:

When the iconic Italian motorcycle company Ducati came under new management just over a decade ago it needed a creative director who could reinvent the brand without losing any of its sense of history. Enter David Gross, a Harvard-educated corporate lawyer and marketing whiz who left New York for Bologna in 1997 to tackle the task and “to escape [his] dull NYC life.” His strategy was to change the manufacturing company (which made only a few motorcycle models and little else) into a cross-marketing machine.

A startling ad campaign featuring the rugged-looking employees of actual Ducati factories brought a new relevance to the brand. “I was in awe of the historic factory in Bologna right from the beginning. The brute gigantism of the machinery, the whirring of the paint plant, and, last but not least, the star quality of our factory workers with their dark tans and designer stubble,” he explains. “I bought a cheap camera and started taking Polaroids.” New products soon began to blossom: T-shirts with vintage Ducati logos (worn by the likes of Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom) promoted the motorcycles, which in turn promoted the designer gear necessary to complete the look -- and high-gloss boutiques brought all the elements together.

-- CHRIS ROVZAR

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