What conclusions regarding morality in advertising can be drawn from the Benetton advertising campaign of the 1980’s and early 90’s

In the 1980’s an increase in the amount of money, which went into an advertisement, was increasing dramatically, Campaigns were being increased and brands recognised. Companies were researching and understanding what exactly people wanted and what appealed. This research boiled down to four main groups. Firstly the mainstreamers; people who needed security and who felt that something was missing in their lives. The aspirer; the person who liked all the good things in life.

The succeeded; the person who had to be in control. And lastly the Reformer, who had self-fulfilment, and liked the whole picture. Benetton today has become one of the most well known clothing companies, but the majority of people know Benetton for its shocking advertising. The responsibility for this is mostly down to one man, by the name of Tuscani, who had partnered Benetton for 18yrs. “I am not here to sell pullovers, but to promote an image… ” His work was highly controversial, and shocked and confused people.

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A few examples of his shocking campaigns are images from war such as the soldier’s bloodstained uniform of a soldier, who had been killed in action. Another was a reality campaign, in which Tuscani used other people’s traumatic and troubled lives. He simply added the company’s logo for the finished image, thus transforming it into a simple but effective advertisement to sell clothing. Many people started to ask questions, but this was exactly what Tuscani had set out to achieve.

Benetton was becoming infamous by taking something from one context and putting it into another perspective; but was this right? As far as Tuscani and Benetton were concerned it was the money and publicity they wanted not the morality of the situation. To really hit the nail on the head, Tuscani released a campaign of prisoners on Death Row: ” We on Death Row”. Tuscani claimed that he was trying to put a human face to prisoners who people normally discard. He said at the time: “Is it morally right for myself? I like to do what I like to do… ”

His attitude and campaigns upset and effected many people, particularly, the parents of a murdered child. Their child’s killers, and other criminals also sentenced to death, were now being presented to the world to advertise clothing. Was this right? The whole outcome had a ripple effect. On one hand, all the outrage from the public and victims had basically made Tuscani’s campaign ‘a roller coaster into a rocket’; On the other hand outrage was increasing further and further. Benetton had certainly made its mark in the public eye, whether it was for the right reasons or not.

Many things were said, reported and fought against, people were outraged: “How can a company make a single dollar from blood? ” “How can that company make convicted criminals into heroes? ” A public campaign against Benetton was started with the logo; ‘Benetton-Be gone’, They said that Benetton puts money first. They fought until finally Tuscani got taken to court for fraud and trespass. Benetton parted company with Tuscany after 18yrs of partnership, and Sears (one of the largest clothing retailers in America) removed all the Benetton clothing from its outlets.

Tuscani left saying: “We need to document, we need to look people in the eyes, we need to ask why, we need to ask why they killed. I need knowledge; we need knowledge. We have to look. ” In hindsight, the Benetton campaign deserves its infamous reputation. The use of the Sniper T-shirt and the Death Row images illustrate the inappropriate exploitation of other people’s misfortune. The shock value and publicity gained does not, in my opinion, justify the distress and offence imposed on other people.