When I look at this image I begin to make social and cultural connections between the image and my brain to figure out what the overall message of the ad is supposed to be. I know I already talked a bit about this in the ad with the girl and the doll but I think this ad deserves a deeper look at this main point. 

I was trying to figure out why this ad makes so much sense, why the message seems so obvious to me when there is really nothing but the image to base my information off of…lemme back up and begin by explaining what I think this ad is about. 

 

 


 

So I know its a United Colors of Benetton ad, because their logo is plastered on the side, but instead of just using an artfully composed image like the girl and her doll, this is more of a poster or ad with a purpose. It’s purpose it to advertise this World Food Programme called “Food for Life.”

I would say with this image, Benetton is not trying to advertise their clothing or even trying to advertise themselves as company that sells anything. I think they are trying to establish their corporate rhetoric, even more so than in their other ads.

I really think they are trying to attract customers and create brand loyalty with customers that have specific social values, which are reflected in this World Food Programme that they are supporting. Maybe a consumer who is already involved in programs like this or who is already part of this socially conscious culture would see this ad and become attracted to United Colors of Benetton because they support the same causes that the consumer does.

I think in many cases companies under estimate their consumers and their capabilities. Benetton’s main competitor in Europe, H&M, has started a campaign that supports AIDS, Gap has been doing the (RED) campaign to support something (I’m still not really sure what they are trying to do) in Africa, but Benetton is one of the only major clothing companies that really follows through with their campaigns. They actually make the campaigns about the issues, and then hope that support for their clothing line will follow. Gap sells these clothes with distinctive logo’s for their RED campaign and supposedly a percentage of the money will go to Africa, but Gap makes sure that they still are making a profit on these clothes and on top of that they hardly have to pay for advertising thanks to celebrities like Oprah and the fact that everyone is walking around with these logos on their shirts. 

With that said I want to talk about the visual aspects of this ad and why it works so well. David Mackenzie Ogilvy talks about print ads in his book Ogilvy on Advertising (1983) and all of these rules that apply to print ads, which I think are a little outdated. I know this hasn’t been talked about in class but I can’t talk about this ad without mentioning cause-related-marketing, which actually was started in 1983 by American Express (http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/09/04717175/0471717509.pdf). Actually the main part of Ogilvy that doesn’t apply to this ad are his thoughts on ad copy, which he thinks is really important to have in the ad. For this ads purposes the image and headline speaks for itself… there I finally got to my main point! 

The consumer doesn’t need ad copy and extraneous information to distract them, they just need this bracing image to say it all. Going back to the basics of visual rhetoric our minds fill in the gaps between what we see and what is stored in our minds to create a full picture. 

The spoon tells me this man is hungry, his lack of clothing tells me he may not have money and both of these things put together tell me his basic human needs aren’t being met, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which states that physiological needs such as food, water, sleep, breathing and shelter are the first needs that must be met (A.H. Maslov, A Theory of Human Motivation, Psychological Review 50 (1943):370-96.).

The fact that the spoon is attached to his hand, and is actually in place of his hand, tells me that this eating utensil is more valuable to him than his hand at this point. 

The title, “Food for life,” brings up an important idea that is scarcely mentioned in American culture, the theory of eating to live rather than living to eat.

While I, as a consumer, might rather blindly buy products and enjoy looking at the eye candy of fashion ads, I, as a person who spent five years going to school in India and has first hand seen the hunger and poverty at its worst, would much rather support a socially conscious company like Benetton. 

I feel like even if I didn’t like their clothes I would still want to buy something from them to support them, which coming from a poor college student is a rare statement! In other words, I think this ad and the theories put into play behind the ad are very effective for me. 

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