Discuss the controversial nature of Benetton’s advertising campaigns, paying close attention to the “Benetton Baby”, “David Kirby” and to the recent “Sentenced To Death” adverts. I have recently been studying 3 controversial adverts published by Olivierio Toscani for the clothing manufacturer “United Colours of Benetton”. These three adverts of which I am going to scrutinize as part of my essay have been posted up on billboards across the globe, together they accumulate to make some of outrageous and notorious advertisements ever created by a highly recognised clothing manufacturer.
The first advert is photograph of a newly born child, still attached to his unbiblical cord, “the Benetton Baby”. In the late nineteen nineties Toscani released a picture of a man dying from AIDs, on his deathbed surrounded by his family. Thirdly Toscani produced a series of photographs featuring inmates on the American death row. Some members of the public found these adverts distasteful and disturbing. However others felt that the adverts were acceptable.
The clothing line first began production in the late nineteen seventies. The owner is Luciano Benetton; he began his empire in a small store in the north of Italy, after many years Luciano became one of the most successful independent retailers. Until his kingdom collapsed and eventually regained power over the global clothing industry. Luciano hired a man named Olivierio Toscani to be his advertising campaign manager. Toscani’s view on advertising is extremely opposite from the stereotypical persons view on advertising, because Toscani wants people to question why he’s using people whom are “sentenced to death” to advertise clothes, and why people turn away in disgust at the most natural and beautiful thing in the world, child birth. “Shocking violence in the news is normal.
But when you take the same photograph out of the news and put a Benetton logo on it, people pause and reflect on their position on the problem. When they can’t come to terms with it, they get mad at us”. This quotation proves that Toscani believes that people think the reel life issues should not be used as advertising material, they think people in nice pink fluffy jumpers should be, even though this is false. He wants people to see the world from a different prospective and to appreciate that the world is more than what they see. Toscani feels that his view on the advertising world is real and not a false representation of the world of which the stereotypical person sees it.
Advertising is designed to manipulate people’s feelings and play on their in-securities. I have de-constructed an advert, which is advertising a new aftershave for men aimed at the younger generation “Gucci Envy” which initially suggests from the name, that if you were to use the aftershave then you would be “envied” by others. The green aftershave bottle covers approximately 70% of the page and is situated on a white background, there are only two colours used in the advert and they are lime green and white.
The colour scheme suggests coldness, and limitless which suggests that If you wear the aftershave then you will be free to do precisely what you want and have no boundaries. Also usual adverts show the product there advertising, Benetton doesn’t. The sophisticated “Gucci” advert manipulates you into thinking that if you’re not sophisticated then you will be after using the aftershave. The “Gucci” advert manipulates you, plays on you’re insecurities and shows the product of which they are advertising. “Benetton” does none of these things. I am now going to prove this by analysing the “Benetton Baby”. Toscani decided to use the images because he believes that advertising, “is a Rorschach test of what you bring to the image” he believes that the image should not be the main focus, the message of which the advert is showing should be even though there is no text.
The first advert of which the world found distressing was “The Benetton Baby” initially published in the early nineteen nineties Olivierio Toscani decided to publish the advert as it is a shot of life and it shows the beginning, suggestion that the “United Colours of Benetton” is the way forward, the way to begin your role in the clothing industry. The baby covers approximately 75% of the landscape advert. Set on a white background suggesting that the gateway to heaven is guiding us into the world. This enhances the quality by emphasising the background to make the child stand out. This advert could cause people great distress particularly couples who are infertile or have been bereaved of one of more of their children.
When the advert was primarily published in nineteen ninty one the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received over eight hundred complaints about the advert which had been described as “widespread controversy” however considering that the advert had been posted up on bill boards globally and that millions upon millions of people must have seen this image, I would not consider this to be widespread.
The term “controversial” means to “create widespread or global argument”. The ASA are a governing body that responds to the publics concern about offensive material. The agency has been in operation for over four decades. The “Benetton Baby” advert had received the most complaints to the ASA in the forty-two year history of the monitoring and approval organisations.
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