United Colors of Controversy: Shock Value in Benetton Advertising.

Essay by colonial237University, Master'sA+, November 2003

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United Colors of Controversy: Shock Value in Benetton Advertising

It is a common practice of advertiser's to appeal to the emotions of consumers in order to sell a product. Over decades, advertisements have evolved to a greater focus on social institutions rather then the product itself. Nonetheless, the Benetton retailer distinguishes itself by its utilization of attention grabbing and often times shocking imagery. When flipping through the Benetton catalogue, consumers are hard pressed to find the prices of sweaters or khaki pants. Instead, we see images of a priest nun kissing, a white woman nursing a black baby, and in its latest campaign - death row inmates. Although the Benetton Corporation claims to be promoting social consciousness, its practices evidence profit motivation and extreme consumer manipulation.

Perhaps the clearest indicator of company philosophy in the 21st is the Benetton web site. More and more, internet sites are catching up with print ad counterparts in the use of symbols and images to make the consumer feel good about purchasing a product.

Often times, these web sites are intentionally distracting. When visiting nike.com, I was able to design my own sneakers, read profiles of female athletes, make a donation to a Children's relief fund, and even check the local weather forecast. Although I could do all of these things in my choice amongst thirteen languages, I was unable to find the prices of Nike sneakers. Benetton's web site, Benetton.com, is likewise functionally distracting when trying to use it for information about Benetton clothing. There is an area where you can browse Benetton's fall/winter collection, but the clothes are not prominently displayed and no prices are listed. When you click under "sweaters", for example, a new window is opened with a large image of female wearing an orange turtleneck sweater. However, the viewer...