April 2008

United Colors of Benetton takes shock advertising to a whole new level with this image. This one of Benetton’s ads from 1992 as part of their campaign to confront themes of social nature, including images of “obscure and insidious illness, violence and intimidation, forced emigration, and natural catastrophes” (http://production.investis.com/ben_en/about/campaigns/list/electric_chair/?version=1).

This ad reminds me of Andy Warhol’s “Electric Chair” series of prints from the 60s, which is still gives me shivers.

I am from Texas, a state that has put to death 405 people since 1982 (http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/executedoffenders.htm), and extremely against the death penalty, so I have a very strong reaction to these images. Just looking at the website with all the names and stats on the people who have been executed gives me goosebumps and my stomach starts to flip.

Before I start to go too far off on a tangent that is completely unrelated to class, let me say that this ad is extremely emotional in it’s subject matter and falls into Wilson’s argument about the Six Tugs of War. As with all of Benetton’s ads since 1982, it doesn’t show any clothing, but chooses to promote issues of social controversy. This is more than a clothing ad, it’s a piece of artwork created to make the viewer think about this issue. Of course, the brand name is smacked on the side of the photo to create a connection between Benetton and the image, otherwise the consumer would have no idea what to attribute or connect to the image. I think Andy Warhol would be very pleased with this image… it takes his ideas of consumerism and the commodification of people and ideas through mass media to the next level by actually implementing these ideas into their advertising techniques.

I think for those very reasons a lot of people have issues with Benetton’s ads and in some cases it’s hard to decide if Benetton is doing this because they really care about these issues or if they are capitalizing on issues. Personally, I think they really care but in the end should it really matter? At least they are bringing these issues to people’s attention unlike Wal-Mart which doesn’t even try to hide their evil ways!


I have decided to change my ad campaign to United Colors of Benetton. I am going to use 4 of their print ads, each from a different one of their campaigns. McCann Erickson is the ad agency that Benetton uses to produce their ads. Each of their campaigns deal with different issues of global concern.

In my last post the ad dealt with racism, in their new campaign, called Microcredit Africa Works, they tackle issues dealing with the economy. Benetton has linked up with the company called Birima which was set up by the singer Youssou N’Dour. This program gives small, low interest loans (micro loans) to farmers and artisans in Senegal. Benetton has given Birima a large amount of money that they loan to the people and in turn Benetton’s logo and name is plastered on all the images. This provides a symbiotic relationship between the two groups, Benetton’s image is boosted and Birima has money for loans, they both win.

In this campaign, Benetton deals with issues of poverty and taking steps to change the ways of the world. This campaign definitely uses emotion to connect with the consumer. Their focus is completely away from their product, yet it makes me want to buy their product. If we had a Benetton store in Albuquerque, I would want to buy something from there, rather than somewhere like Target, just because I know they support causes like this.

This might not be the same use of emotion that Williams talks about in his article on the The Six Tugs of War, but I think it still applies. I also think that because they don’t use their clothes in the campaign they are pretty much completely relying on consumers emotions and curiosity to sell their clothes.

What I really like about the Benetton Group is there website. They have so much information about the actual company on their website, from past ad campaigns to press releases, financial statements, future projections and tons of other information. I like that they aren’t trying to hide anything from the consumer like many companies try to do today. I don’t think that they legally have to put that information on their website because they are not a publicly held corporation but they do.

I love the artistic qualities of the ad, it is so bright and colorful, yet simple and striking. It shows real people and what they do to make a living and I think it has real potential to change the way people look at Africa and it’s a great start to ending poverty.

I think this is more of a music video than a tv commercial but either way, it’s promoting Birima and Benetton’s message about Microcredit Africa Works. I am going to do a wide campaign analysis and stick to print ads but the animation in this video makes me smile so I wanted to share it with you.


I’m getting a little bored with the mac vs. pc ads, so I wanted to look at something different and save the rest of the Apple ads for the ad campaign analysis project.

This week I want to talk about the United Colors of Benetton ad campaign and how they have positioned their advertising to address global controversial issues, rather then their specific products. Many of their ads would be considered “shock advertising,” which have many pros and cons. On one hand, their images and ideas might offend people and make them upset, causing them to want to stay away from the company or brand. On the other hand, it gets people’s attention and makes them think. It challanges the consumer to look outside their comfort zone and beyond the normal realm of advertising. I find United Colors of Benetton’s approach to advertising very interesting and effective. Take a look at this ad from one of their recent campaigns, there is absolutely nothing in the ad that connects the consumer with the clothes that they sell, or even any clothes at all, yet it presents a very strong message.

Instead of using their clothing, they use their company philosophy to entice the consumer. They use a combination of emotion, intellect, and strong visual language, with very minimal ad copy in this ad to attract attention. The message is simple, we are all the same on the inside, regarless of what color we are on the outside. I think this approach is brilliant because it makes the consumer think about the company they want to support, rather than basing their shopping decisions solely on the merchandise that they sell.

In the marketplace today it is vey easy to get caught up in just the products and forget about personal values or ethics. Affordability and convenience are such a huge factor in consumer purchasing that sometimes it is almost impossible to avoid huge corporations like Wal-mart and Target that aren’t the most enviromentally friendly or socially conscious companies. While some consumers don’t care one way or another, I think there is a huge market out there of consumers that DO care about these issues and would love to support socially conscious companies but don’t want to have to go too far out of their way to figure out what’s what. United Colors of Benetton puts their philosophy out there so it’s easily accessible to people and allows them to think about more intellectual issues than just clothing, while at the same time promoting their company.

Here is another ad that I will be using for my ad campaign analysis. It is another mac vs. pc ad that I see as the next part of the mac vs. pc story that mac is trying to tell.

I forgot to mention last week that this campaign has been created for Apple Inc. by TBWA, which is Apple Inc.’s advertising agency. TBWA is a very large advertising agency that has a long client list, including Absolute Vodka, Adidas, Playstation, McDonalds and Infiniti, to name a few. This particular campaign is called the “Get a Mac” campaign and it started in 2002. Apple’s intentions of these ads were to get PC users to switch over to Macs.

The ads are directed by Phil Morrison and are accompanied with music composed my Mark Mothersbaugh called “Having Trouble Sleeping”. Mothersbaugh is well known for his music composed for Wes Anderson films, such as The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou, and Rushmore. In addition he has composed music for over 80 other mainstream and independent films.

I know this weeks lecture was on “image and sound” and how they work together, but I am mainly going to focus on sound in light of my research on the composer of the music. In these commercials I think tropes play a large part to their success. Of course the addition of artistic genius and creativity ultimately are what make these commercials enjoyable for me to watch over again, and actually look forward to the next episode of the campaign, these ads might have completely flopped without the use of tropes.

In this ad we see the familiar faces of Mac and PC, played by the same characters we have seen in previous commercials. The only difference is that this ad has added another, unfamiliar character, the body guard. First of all, this ad uses synechdochy by using characters to represent the different computers, which allows the audience to attach human attributes to each computer. In the beginning of the commercial the characters announce “I’m a Mac” and “I’m a PC”, but the body guard doesn’t announce who he is, the audience can gather from previous cultural implications of his clothing and the way he talks that he is probably a body guard.

This ads purpose is to illustrate the problems of the new Windows Vista operating system. Every time the Mac says something the body guard repeats the question and asks “allow” or “deny”. It becomes very irritating and hard to focus on what Mac is saying because of all the interruptions. I think this aspect of the commercial evokes an emotional response, at least in me. Whenever I use PC’s I get so annoyed at all the pop ups and different windows that i have to click “okay” on before I can finally get to the page that I am trying to find. I guess Vista is trying to minimize the amount of pop ups by adding all these security features, that end up being just as, if not more, annoying than pop ups are. In this ad I can identify a past experience and build on it when I see the actors bring it to life.

I have kind of gotten off topic from sound but I did want to comment on the ad agency’s use of Mark Mothersbaugh music in the ad. This is purely an assumption but in any case, I think that many people who are familiar with Wes Anderson films would know who Mark Mothersbaugh is and by that same measure, I think that many people who use Mac computers for their artistic implications and abilities probably have seen a Wes Anderson film and therefore know the music of Mark Mothersbaugh. This might be completely false logic, but regardless, I think Apple chose Mark Mothersbaugh music on purpose and probably for these specific reasons, and I think it is genius on their part. On the other hand, I don’t think many people would know off the bat that these commercials use Mothersbaugh tunes, I looked it up, but it carriers many of the same intentions that his other music uses in the Wes Anderson films. I think it attracts people and appeals to people in this target group that I have been talking about because it might evoke the same feelings that his music would evoke on a film soundtrack, regardless of if they know specifically who made the music.