Embracing Diversity’s Blanket “The company founded on the mission of bringing color to a world filled with black and white has also found a way to enliven world images” through its unique marketing strategy (Barela 9). United Colors of Benetton is known for their controversial publicity campaigns using social issues and diverse models that would appeal to many races, cultures, lifestyles, and religions. In this multi-ethnic photograph the global fashion brand depicts another metaphor for its multi-national audience. A white woman, a black woman, and an Asian baby are the focus of this image.
These subjects are depicted on a white background. The baby is between the two women and held by their joint black and white hands. Both the women are nude and show no emotion. Encompassing the three bodies is a green blanket. To the right there is a green box with white text depicting the company name, United Colors of Benetton. In this advertisement created by the United Colors of Benetton, the clothing company portrays an image of their brand that spans race and sexual differences and whose purpose is to promote diversity using symbols, people, and photographic elements.
One of the most prominent aspects of the image is the green and purple blanket embracing the three bodies. This warm covering surrounding them symbolizes a bringing together and a unification of the people it is encompassing: white, black, and yellow. The blanket ultimately suggests different races coming together in unity and equality. The color green symbolizes growth and is trying to encourage the audience to accept diversity and others. In addition to the blanket, the black and white hands clasped together have great symbolic meaning. Hands on top of each other and together are a symbol of strength and unity.
Critics may say that these images have no symbolic meaning, although, according to the Benetton website this campaign “consists of highly symbolic posters to mark the concept of equality in diversity” (Benetton Group). The United Colors of Benetton is trying to sell a blanket that any race can wrap themselves around. In addition, “the strength of Toscani’s campaigns rests largely on how consumers perceive his work. The Benetton advertisements do not “tell” viewers how to view the messages; rather, they place metaphors before the market so the market can interpret the connotative meanings” (Barela 9).
Toscani was the photographer hired to release these advertisements. The company wanted to promote itself as a brand that any “color” can wear, and encouraged tolerance of differences. Another method that the artist uses to promote diversity is a photographic method. This method allows the viewer to feel a sense of equality with the people in the photograph. This method is used within this Benetton advertisement. The angle of the camera is exactly horizontal to and at eye level with the people in the image.
Unlike other images which are usually taken from above or below either to put someone on a pedestal or to give power to the viewer, this image is taken at the eye level of the subjects, creating a sense of equality with the people in the advertisement. Not only does this image create a sense of equality between the viewer and the subjects, but also between the people in the photograph. The company hopes that people will “feel” this equality with people who have differences. The focus of the photograph is the white woman, black woman, and Asian baby.
All three are of different races and ethnicities. The image is trying to advocate that the world is not just black and white anymore. Benetton is advocating that Developments in transportation, communication, and technology have changed formerly homogeneous societies into ones that comprise multiple cultures, languages, and races. Benetton’s effort to appeal to these changes has offered new developments in traditional marketing methods; however, it must continue to achieve its ultimate purpose: promotion of the company and sales of clothes. Barela 14) In addition to race, the image is also depicting a lesbian relationship. The two women together in a blanket emphasize this relationship. The advertisement is encouraging its audience to be more open and socially accepting of diversity and lifestyles. Nevertheless, some critics find that these advertisements are too controversial, but this was the goal of releasing these photographs. This advertisement was released in 1990 (Benetton Group). Nineteen years ago, diversity, inter-racial relationships, and homosexual activity were considered taboo.
They created their own publicity because some people did find them too controversial. This was the whole essence of the advert with the symbolic green “growth” of tolerance of others. “The goal was to reach people’s souls, to invoke discussion of controversial topics, and to bring all societies to the awareness that humans share many similar concerns and that even Benetton, a clothing company, can offer support to worldwide social issues” (Barela 5). This advertisement, created by the United Colors of Benetton, is successful n portraying an image of their brand that spans race and sexual differences. In addition, it promotes diversity using symbols, people, and photographic elements. Benetton’s controversial advertising campaigns are a new approach to advertising that advocate discussions about morals and ethics using social issues. As globalization continues to make the world smaller and develop multi-ethnic consumer markets, the need for unique marketing methods, such as those used by Benetton, will become essential.
Their creative marketing strategy of advertising their products cross-culturally and using diverse models, as used in this advertisement, will allow the company to reach consumers across ethnic boundaries. ? Works Cited Barela, Mark J. “Executive Insights: United Colors of Benetton — From Sweaters to Success: An Examination of the Triumphs and Controversies of a Multinational Clothing Company. ” Journal of International Marketing. Vol. 11 Issue 4 (2003): 113-128. Business Source Premier EBSCOhost Web. 13 July 2009 Benetton Group. “Benetton Institutional Campaigns. ” 12 July 2009