November 17, 2011

United Provocation of Benetton

News today that Benetton has been requested by the Vatican to pull its latest ad campaign entitled ‘Unhate,’ featuring the pope kissing a senior Egyptian Imam, as well as other famous people seen to be kissing their perceived adversaries

The Colours of Benetton creative platform has historically always been provocative – always creating a stir, sometimes positive, often negative but always getting noticed.

Since the concept, Colours of Benetton, was created by Oliviero Toscani, a photographer and man in charge of Benetton’s creative direction from 1982 to 2000, numerous edgy executions have been implemented around the world .

He clearly had a vision for the brand that he managed to steer through the 80s and 90s and that now appears to be making a resurgence. Here are a couple of pieces of his past work:



I can still remember when I was living in Central London,UK  back in the 90s, the fuss that the new born baby ad caused when it first appeared on billboards. I saw it from a London bus once on a 10′ x 20′ billboard and at the time it was seriously powerful as an image in a busy, cluttered, hectic environment.

Like the ‘Unhate’ ads that appear today, those ads were also removed for their perceived offensive nature but for the brand, the advertising clutter had been breached.

Apart from the New born baby ad above which I don’t claim to understand at all, I think that Benetton has traditionally done a fantastic job of remaining edgy but yet thought provoking, and ultimately true to the global brand that is Benetton.

Keep pushing the boundaries, Benetton.

As advertisers, isn’t it better to be different and get noticed where possible, rather than blend in and be invisible?

Yes, it is a very fine line between offensive and thought-provoking, between wow and euw.

But Unhate for me, is a definite wow !!



Posted by Rob Booth | Filed under: Asides, General, Media, Useful | 3 comments - read them or leave a reply

3 Responses to “United Provocation of Benetton”

  • […] Booth, stratège, médias numériques sociaux, de l’agence Bos, a aborde aussi le sujet sur son blogue. Lui aussi rappelle les grandes campagnes de Benetton, mais conclut en applaudissant le fait que […]

  • Funny: I just finished a post on my blog on that subject. I share many of your observations, but not your conclusions… Benetton had stopped advertising, and stopped putting forward the values that were inherent to its campaing in the 90’s. And while its motivations for launching that “Unhate” initiative may be genuine, I find that it is not convincing this time.
    Benetton had dropped out of our radar screens, and is not a great brand anymore. And this new campaing will only awaken the cynicism many people cultivate towards business and marketing: it will be seen as one more way companies are ready to “recuperate” anything, and “manipulate” us.

    • Rob Booth says:

      Great comments, Marie-Claude – the point I was trying to make is that I admire the way that Benetton is never neutral in its communications. Even though the brand has been dormant for some years now in terms of its communications, it has always created a reaction as a result of its advertising, and while just creating a reaction for reaction’s sake is not a recommended tactic, I would like to think that this latest provocative resurgence from this popular 90s brand is the start of a longer term strategy. Let’s keep an eye on them over the next few months to see how the brand will evolve.

      There is way too much ‘white noise’ in advertising these days and only those brands who do things differently while staying true to their brand’s core values (which doesn’t mean being offensive) are going to be noticed and ideally appreciated by consumers in my opinion.

      With global revenue in excess of 2, 053, 000, 000 Euros in 2010, 150 million garments produced every year and distributed throughout 6 000 stores worldwide in a very competitive retail category, I would suggest that Benetton is still a very solid brand that has simply been quiet for some time. Maybe the sleeping giant is starting to stir. I personally can’t wait to see what they do next.

      Many thx again for the feedback – without feedback, a blog is not a blog.

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