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What Is Benetton Shock Advertising?

Advertising is a way to communicate something, service, or idea to a market. Companies use a number of advertising forms: television, radio, newspapers, magazines, internet webpage's, and word of mouth to send their message to the buyer. Companies use advertising to attempt to convince the target audience their product is what the buyer needs or is better than what is currently in use or is invaluable for everyday routine. The center point of all advertisements is the product that the company is trying to sell to the buyer.

Advertising regarding the Benetton Group change what sort of world viewed advertising. The Benetton Group used shock advertising to promote their products. Benetton didn't use their products in the advertisement, instead; they used graphic photographs to seize the audience's attention. The business place their slogan and firm name "United Colors of Benetton" on the advertisements. The idea that Benetton was choosing was to shock the audience with vivid photo's that could capture the attention, good or bad. However, the company used this system to insure that the audience remembers their name. This advertising worked.

Benetton's most known advertisement campaigns were: a dying AIDS patient, priest kissing nun T-shirt, a Bosnian soldier, enemies, military cemetery with Star of David, ship with refugees, HIV positive patient, gunman with bone, oil-polluted duck, and child labor. Benetton claim the campaigns derived from well-known causes that are of political or social in nature. The campaigns sparked an internationally debate. Should a clothing manufacturer use such graphic promotional initiatives? Would there be legal ramifications? Would a profit result?

The first company to hire shock advertising, The Benetton group truly shock the earth with the intent to increase name recognition. The business's risk was astronomical. Would consumers, either disgusted or enthused, venture to see what Benetton was or maybe dismiss the advertising play?

The Benetton group was relying on the shock advertising to improve their name recognition with consumers. The shock campaigns indeed created controversy across the world. The controversy was so excellent as evidenced in news articles, news tv and on the internet.

The Benetton group received free publicity, sparked by the debates on if the company had the right legally or morally to work with such graphic images rather than the original advertising promoting the merchandise that they sold. Lawsuits were filed clamming Benetton violated laws in Germany "section one of regulations Against Unfair competition" (Brandstaetter, ND, ¶28) along with violating human dignity. The German judge ruled that legally the advertising didn't violate regulations because competition can be classified by product or brand. The German courts ruled that Benetton did not violate human dignity because "photographs and pictures are one form of the expression of one's opinion" (Brandstaetter, ND, ¶36).

The Benetton group gained worldwide name recognition. The internet is key to many worldwide "hatters" of Benetton. One particular blogger entitled their page "Benetton - A DISGRACE TO PEOPLE" (Grimsbygal, 2001, ). The blogger felt the need to voice disapproval and encourage boycotting Benetton's products when shopping. Grimsbygal (the blogger) expresses that Benetton is insulting people and causing widespread offence using their shock campaign.

Benetton brought wide controversy with repeating the shock campaign repeatedly. David Croth, a Brand Manager for a competing clothing brand, wished to know what dose shock advertising has to do with clothing. Clothing products are "the tamest product on the face of the earth. Do activists wear cute little tennis sets?" (Brandchannel, 2003, ¶2) Davide Giliati a graphical design student said, "An organization can only do this much shocking in a period of time, without boring the audience. " (Brandchannel, 2003, ¶5) Shock may bring attention to a company. "However, over time the brand looks hollow if the merchandise lacks edge, and shock is then seen as marketing puff without substance. " (Brandchannel, 2003, ¶6)

The Benetton Group claimed these were using social activism to base the shock campaigns. However, the risk of Benetton using activism in their campaign was alienating a huge group of their market. Sears, Roebuck & Co. stopped selling Benetton products in February 2000 because of threats of boycotts by victims' rights groups. (Marketing New, 2000)

Shock campaigns can bring huge public debate and brand recognition. Benetton became advertising pioneers because their social concerns were sincere and true with their core values. The question remained if such advertising could bring repeat customers. "Unfortunately Benetton did not seem for taking the opportunity its reputation taken to match leading edge campaigns with cutting edge designs therefore inevitably sales dropped. " (Brandchannel, 2003, ¶12) Underneath line for Benetton was that due to controversial campaigns, their company joined "the top five recognized trademarks of the world. " (Brandstaetter, 1997, ¶41) Dale Lee, President of Smack Inc has mentioned that "Benetton wasn't about 'cause marketing'; it was about passion. Needless to say, you want to buy from a business with passion. That is what Toscani brought Benetton, and that is what's missing without him. " (Brandchannel, 2003¶26)

The Benetton group, in the sixties, developed a unique way to manipulate that they dye their sweaters providing them with a competitive advantage. Benetton could dye their finished products to meet the changing fashion trends. Ahead of this period of energy, the company was required to dye the unwoven fibers, taking longer to keep up with the ever changing fashion trends. "The united colors concept spread from encompassing different races to the ideas of tolerance, peace and respect for diversity. " (UCB advertising presentation, nd, ¶5)

Olivero Toscani the creative mind behind Benetton's shock campaigns taken to light that behind every good plan was a controversy and the planet is better off due to this awareness. "Art represents the edge and of course the edge cab makes people feel uncomfortable. But it's also a matter of the person you are speaking with: personally, I think the rain is uncomfortable. But try making that argument to a fish. Toscani" (AdAge Global, 2001, ¶12) Toscani states that "sometimes advertising is art, but art is definitely advertising. " (AdAge Global, 2001, ¶16)

Toscani comments that "agencies get huge budges, but the money is wasted because the strategies are decided upon by managers, economists, accountants, and focus groups - not the artists. Before, patrons had the sense in order to Michelangelo what they wanted plus they left it to him to choose how to do it. Nonetheless it doesn't work this way anymore. Everyone thinks he is definitely an artist or at least tell the artist what he must do. " (AdAge Global, 2001, ¶21)

I could agree and disagree with just how Benetton chose to advertise, however, my opinion is irrelevant because there will always be a person who will chose the opposite. Art, journalism, and advertising can in a single form or another cross each other's realm and should not make anybody right or wrong. Art, journalism, and advertising are born from an innovative notion and expressed differently to meet up with the individual need. If an artist sees two women, kissing the artist might be inspired to paint a picture of the romantic act. When a journalist had seen the two same women kissing, would they be inspired to create about the ladies, maybe in the sixties when two women kissing had been taboo. Lastly, if an advertiser had seen the same two women kissing could the images inspire an advertising rationale of sex sells.

Toscani makes two powerful points about logo's "the Renaissance was just advertising for the Vatican, and the cross is the very best logo of its time and even the swastika was a logo, a powerful logo. " (AdAge Global, 2001, ¶17) Who gets the to chose what is right or wrong with Benetton's advertising choices? No-one, everyone has the right to agree or disagree with campaign tactics. "The one thing nobody can deny is that the advertisings worked. When Toscani left Benetton, twelve-monthly sales were more than twenty times higher than when they were when he arrived. " (AdAge Global, 2001, ¶14)

The success of shock advertising for the Benetton group opened the doorway for others to work with similar types of advertising campaigns. Nonprofit organizations have adopted versions of shock advertising, because nonprofit organizations have to contend with corporations that routinely have larger advertising budgets to work with. "Nonprofit organizations stand to benefit more from the viral effect these ads create. " (Shock Advertising, 2009, ¶1) The anti-smoking campaigns use strong but to the point methods like a photo on the back of an bus with someone's face with the mouth over the exhaust pipe representing exhaling a cigarette with the easy phrase that says "Ready to quit?" (Shock Advertising, 2009, ¶2) Anti-smoking advertisements do not stop there there is also two different commercial, one where they are simply cutting a brain available to show an aneurism and the second where they may have an artery and someone is squeezing buildup from it. These advertisements may be considered "gross" but the advertisements communicate their point that smoking has many health risks.

The campaign to avoid drinking and driving uses shock advertising, they show a picture of any mangled car with a tarp covering a body beside the mangled car over a blood stained road, to indicate the fact that drinking and driving can kill. During prom season many chapters of the stop DWI chapter will employee the help of high schools to allow them to put a mangled car before the school with an indicator that says drink plus driving equals, implying the mangled car.

"Shock advertising pushes ethical and societal boundaries by publicizing images and ideas that tend to be culturally taboo or inappropriate. " (Shock Advertising, 2009, ¶5) In the case of two similar advertisements the first is a guy and ladies in bed about to have unsafe sex, one asks the other how many partner have you had. The reply is only a couple of and you merely a couple. The bed room then fills up with men and women with the caption unsafe sex means you are sleeping with everyone your lover has. Such nonprofit advertisement helps stop the spread of aids and other sexually transmitted diseases that will require the use of protection. The second was similar but contained two men with a similar outcome with the caption "with out a condom, this, along with AIDS, is who you make love with. Protect yourself. " (Shock Advertising, 2009, ¶8)

Major corporations use Shock advertising in their training videos. Mc Donald's in the late eighties showed a training video of a young person losing a ring in to the deep fryer and reaching into the fryer to retrieve the jewelry. Mead Westvaco has used videos with real people, one individual reached directly into a running machine and loosing fingers, another was changing a battery over a reach truck without safety equipment and creating a battery explode covering the person in acid.

Automobile manufacturers have used types of shock advertising, taking a car and simulating a crash with crash test dummies crashing through the windshield, stating do not be a dummy buckle up, seatbelts save lives.

Victoria Secrete had controversy with the television advertisements. Majority of the women discovered that in a women's magazine the advertisements were fine. However, when the first Victoria Secrete advertisement aired on the television set many married women were appalled that their husbands could see sexy models in slinky lingerie creating controversy. However, like with all shock advertisements the shock fades and the controversy either becomes part of everyday normality or goes away.

Greenpeace has used a great form of shock advertising in their stores. With every purchase made the client receives a bag with an endangered animal onto it with a hand reaching up to the handle holes so when the bag is carried the appearance is that the endangered animal is holding their hand. The caption on the bag says, "Give me your hand, Greenpeace. " (Shock Advertising, 2009)

Advertisers strive to meet the demand of their customers with shock advertising like the anti-smoking advertisements and Greenpeace, and traditional advertising. However, advertisers won't meet up with the demand of each demographic, the best they can do is hope they send the message through to a specific target audience.

The creation of shock advertising by the Benetton group created by Olivero Toscani lasted eightteen years when Benetton and Toscani parted ways. The reason behind the separation is not clear, because neither Benetton nor would Toscani comment. The speculation was as a result of controversy surrounding Toscani's Death Row campaign. "The state of Missouri sued Toscani and Benetton for misrepresenting themselves while interviewing four death row inmates in that state. " (AdAge Global, 2001, ¶4) Toscani wife commented "after so a long time, the decision was mutual she also said it had nothing in connection with the death penalty campaign. " (Marketing New, 2000, ¶2)

Benetton's choice to drop shock advertising has caused a decline in sales. However, there really is no way to tell if the decrease in sales is due to change in choice of advertising. Benetton could never replace Toscani and if they had continued the shock campaigns, the business still would not be the same. Benetton's choice might be beneficial for them in the long- run as long as they invest in their products.

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