Marketing of Benetton

Essay by bschoi May 2004

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United Colors of Benetton


Since 1984, Benetton conducted a very controversial advertising campaign. Among the most talked about ones were:

- a black horse mounting a white one

- the naked buttocks of an AIDS carrier, tattooed with "HIV Positive"

- a black baby and a white baby facing each other, sitting on their potties

- a priest and a nun kissing

- an empty electric chair

- child laborers with the slogan "The United Colors of Benetton"

Owner Luciano Benetton said that the rationale behind their advertising campaign was to put forward ideas about racism, sexism, human rights, animal rights, the environment and most of the major worldwide issues which prevailed during the time. Benetton stated that its strategy was "born of the company's wish to produce images of global concern for its global customers." This humanitarian aspect, however, seems to have followed rather than preceded the advertising campaign which then became an integral part of Benetton's marketing strategy.

Benetton then supported a variety of causes such as SOS Racisme and even organized a worldwide conference in 1996. Their web page had a large collection of news stories on topics such as whale hunting, land mines, ozone layer depletion and North Korean girls being sold.

The Benetton ads/campaigns have been haunted by much controversy. The company even pulled out some advertisements such as the billboard of a newborn baby with its umbilical cord intact and covered in amniotic fluid because of too much public protests in countries such as France, Italy and the U.K. However, it is also evident that Benetton's voluntary removal of the billboards was also a move to increase the company's notoriety - making it a martyr to censorship. Although the ad was not specifically banned, the sense of censorship that Benetton created helped...