Benetton’s colorful world

Different brands of Benetton

Benetton’s think tank “Fabrica” and its cultural activities

The unconventional advertising

Brain behind the advertising

A revert to the conventional ways

Benetton, the Italian retailer was engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of clothing, undergarments, shoes, cosmetics and accessories. Benetton also licensed its brand name to various manufacturers of sunglasses, stationery, cosmetics, linens, watches, toys, steering wheels, golf equipment, designer condoms and luggage. The group’s important brands included United Colors of Benetton (UCB), Sisley, PlayLife and Killer Loop. During fiscal 2002, Benetton reported revenues of €1.99 billion and net income of €128 million. Benetton spent €102 million on advertising and promotion during the year. In addition to retail outlets around the world, Benetton also operated mega stores (3000 square foot stores) in cities such as Paris, Rome, Kobe, Osaka, New York, London, Moscow and Lisbon. As of 2002, the company operated in about 120 countries through its 5000 retail stores and employed about 7250 people. Benetton was well known for its colorful and provocative advertisements. The company employed unusual, controversial advertising techniques and themes that used “shock value” and the power of photography to grab viewers’ attention. Unlike most advertisements which centered on a company’s product or image, Benetton’s advertising campaigns focused on social and political issues like racial integration, AIDS awareness, war, poverty, child labor, death, pollution etc. The advertisements initially succeeded in raising the brand's profile, but eventually began to cause dissatisfaction among customers, retailers, government bodies and various international non-profit organizations. Some of Benetton’s most memorable advertisements were a priest and a nun kissing, a just born baby with uncut umbilical cord, a black stallion and a white mare mating, a colorful mix of condoms, a black woman breast- feeding a white baby, the photo of an AIDS victim and his family taken moments before his death, the bloody uniform of a dead Bosnian soldier. Following the controversy surrounding a particularly provocative campaign called “We, On Death Row,” Oliviero Toscani, Benetton’s Creative Director and Photographer, resigned from the company in May 2000. Benetton realized that it had crossed even the boundaries of unconventional advertising. Various surveys suggested that some loyal customers had been put off by this campaign. One industry expert commented about Toscani: “He has left a famous brand badly besmirched. Many of the things done in that name have encountered a great deal of public resentment, hostility and boycott. It can be overcome, but not easily.” Following Toscani’s departure, 28-year-old Fabrica (Benetton’s Communication department) student James Mollison took over as Benetton’s Creative Director. Under Mollison, it seemed Benetton was reverting to a more traditional advertising strategy.


Luciano, Giuliana, Gilberto and Carlo Benetton, launched the activities of the Benetton Group in 1965. The company is today present in 120 countries around the world. Its core business is fashion apparel with the casual United Colors of Benetton, the glamour oriented Sisley, Playlife American college style and Killer Loop streetwear brands. Benetton Group is listed on the stock exchange of Milan. Luciano Benetton Born in 1935, Luciano Benetton is Chairman of the Benetton Group. He is also on the Board of Directors of Edizione Holding, the family-owned financial holding company and was a Senator of the Italian Republic from 1992 to 1994. He is the father of four children. Giuliana Benetton Born in 1937, Giuliana Benetton is currently on the Board of Directors of both Edizione Holding (the family-owned financial holding company) and Benetton Group. She is married and has four children. Gilberto Benetton Born in 1941, Gilberto Benetton is President of Edizione Holding, the family holding company, President of Autogrill and Director of Benetton Group. He is also a Director of Atlantia S.p.A, Mediobanca S.p.A and Pirelli S.p.A. He is married and has two daughters. Carlo Benetton Born in 1943, Carlo Benetton is Deputy Chairman of both Edizione Holding (the familyowned financial holding company) and of Benetton Group. He is the father of four children.

Guiliana bought a knitting machine and put together a collection of 18 brightly colored sweaters.BACKGROUND NOTE 1960s The idea of color.” . 1965 The Benetton Group is established. To support his family. Luciano and Guiliana decided to start their own apparel company. Luciano concentrated on marketing. Carlo managed production. With thirty thousand lire. Guiliana directed the design department. The Benetton family (consisting of three brothers and a sister) established the Benetton chain in a small Italian town in 1955. Benetton was formally incorporated in 1965 as “Maglificio di Ponzano Veneto dei Fratelli Benetton. His sister Guiliana worked as a knitter in a local factory. flexible and innovative. 1980s Benetton communication campaigns: known all over the world. dropped out of school to sell apparel. 1970s A business model making the difference: unique. These sweaters were immediately sold to the local stores. Recognizing the potential for a new business. Gilberto handled administration and finance. 1990s A global company present in 120 countries. Luciano Benetton. the remaining two brothers joined the company.500 contemporary stores. As the business grew. 2000s Benetton grows with the market: about 160 million garments sold annually in more than 5. Each of the four siblings took responsibility for one aspect of the business.

Benetton went public by offering 15. and used sub-contractors. Nordica skis (originally Kästle).” Fabrica invited students from different countries. from industrial design to music. the film “Dayereh. In 1994. Benetton rapidly expanded by setting retail outlets in France. opened in 1969. Tomato. these brands performed poorly and Benetton decided to divest all of them. with creative talents. Britain. By the mid1980s. Unlike most small producers. a US private equity fund for the sale of Prince and Ektelon brands for about €36. During the 1990s. Benetton’s popularity grew with an impressive list of clientele. Employees were also offered shares. Benetton announced that it would also sell Rollerblade to Tecnica for around €20 million. The research center housed several film. was an immediate success. West Germany. Switzerland. Shortly thereafter. Benetton also set up manufacturing facilities in France. Benetton sold Nordica to skiwear firm Tecnica for €38 million. racquetball-racquet maker Ektelon and snowboard brand Killer Loop. which won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film in 2002. and the Scandinavian countries.” which won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. Luciano described Fabrica as: “a bridge between a visionary dream: between utopia and the reality a world facing changes that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago. offering them yearlong fellowships. co-produced by Fabrica. Benetton set up Fabrica. In 1986. photo and design studios. who opted for the widest possible distribution. video and music labs. In addition to setting up retail outlets across the world.6 million common shares (10% of the company). To appeal to different segments of population. art. the chain had built a significant presence in the major US cities and in Japan.Princess Caroline of Monaco and Princess Diana of Wales. By 1975. the company entered into an agreement to open an exclusive store for marketing the apparel. Two months later. Benetton went on an acquisition spree and purchased companies such as Rollerblade (inline skates). Benetton opened stores under different brand names. But as the business picked up. which included Sisley. Scotland. However. Prince Tennis (racquets). Benetton also reached an agreement with Lincolnshire Management Inc.. Over a period of time. a communications research center. Benetton had become a major player in Italy with about 200 shops (not all of them carrying the Benetton name). these brand names were rolled into the Benetton name. Benetton opened a similar store in Paris. Nordica ski boots. During the late 1960s and the early 1970s. The first store. Among Fabrica’s successful projects were the film “Blackboards.” which won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 and the film “No Man’s Land. In January 2003. the Benetton family decided to create a network of exclusive distributors. Spain and the US. Fabrica (from the Latin word meaning workshop) concentrated on communication projects ranging from cinema to graphics. Merceria and 012.The Benetton family initially sold their apparel through leading Italian department stores.5 million. . from publishing to new media to photography.

The villa was acquired by Benetton in 1969 and the task of restoring and remodernising the complex. men and women to expectant mothers. From the mid 1980s Villa Minelli became the headquarters of the Group and home to all its strategic functions. offering a full range of Benetton style and quality. as well as a wide selection of accessories. The result is the latest trends in design and a rich output of many models a year which are realized with computer assisted design systems fully integrated with the rest of the company's production phases. entrusted to architects Afra and Tobia Scarpa. the glamour oriented Sisley. STORES 5. DESIGN A staff of 300 designers from all over the world creates the collections for the casual United Colors of Benetton.500 stores worldwide The development of Benetton's commercial network. has been supported by a major programme of investment worldwide. characterised by prestigious locations in historic and commercial centres and by the high level of customer services offered. Villa Minelli is a complex of sixteenth century buildings of great historical and cultural interest. The Benetton stores carry complete collections. The design team is also engaged in researching new materials and creating new lines for different targets from children. about 30 km from Venice. offering them not only practical and modern styles but also maximum comfort. Playlife American college style and Killer Loop streetwear brands.HEADQUARTERS Villa Minelli Benetton Group's Corporate headquarters is located at Villa Minelli in Ponzano. took over fifteen years. .

co-ordinated by a high-tech facility at Castrette (Treviso. . Dyeing Since the beginning dyeing has always been a crucial phase in the Benetton production process. from communication to IT. from research into new materials to integrated logistics. The Benetton production system. has always characterized the Group’s business organization.PRODUCTION Consistently high quality is one of the fundamental characteristics of the Benetton production process from the raw materials to the finished garment. Special attention is given to innovation in production. A constant commitment to innovation. where all systems and equipment are totally renewed every five years. The dyeing vats are operational 24 hours a day. Seamless Sweater One of Benetton's innovations is the computerised knitting procedure capable of producing a complete. Italy) is capable of turning out about 160 million garments every year. a crucial factor for development. seamless sweater in half an hour thanks to a software program conceived by Benetton specialists. Computerized Knitting Machines Benetton is the world's largest consumer of pure virgin wool and operates with a structure of computerized machines that are programmed to operate all knitting phases.

500 shops worldwide. Automated Sorting System These automated machines are capable of assembling individual orders for Benetton's more than 5. and is able to handle 40.000 boxes. . Benetton decided to maintain direct control of the logistics phase and has invested heavily in automating logistics processes in order to achieve total integration within the production cycle. About 160 million flat and hanging garments are automatically sorted every year. from customer orders to packing and delivery. ` The finished product is sent directly to the Group's more than 5.000 square meters. packed into boxes and sent directly to the automated distribution system through a tunnel of approximately one kilometer.500 retail outlets in 120 countries worldwide. compared to the 400 people normally required in a traditionally organized operation. Automated Shipping The Automated Distribution System covers an area of 20.000 incoming/outgoing boxes daily with a workforce of only 24. with a total capacity of 400.DISTRIBUTION From the very beginning.

quality and fashion. as well as accessories for women. The brand has created the very fashionable Sisley Young line for children from 8 to 12 years old. childrenswear and underwear collections offer a total look for everyday. from the elegant accessories to the eyewear lines and perfumes. in the city and outdoors. and one of the most well known in the world.THEIR BRANDS United Colors of Benetton A global brand. Its creative artists and independent sales teams concentrate their efforts on its image and on strong-impact advertising campaigns. from the home collection to baby products. men and children. The brand is present in many other sectors. Undercolors is available in its own chain of stores which now has more than 500 locations in thirty countries and in selected Benetton Shops. fabrics and new shapes. menswear. Sisley presents elegant and seductive collections. The above products are available in selected specialized shops worldwide. Each season the womenswear. Undercolors of Benetton An extension of the Benetton brand. for work and for leisure. United Colors of Benetton has an international style that combines color. with special attention given to the choice of design. beachwear and sleepwear collections. The Benetton Baby label is a new product line dedicated to the prenatal and the under-fives world. A wide selection of recurring basic colors is enriched every season with the latest trends. Sisley This is the Group's most fashion forward brand. . featuring underwear.

Playlife This is the Benetton sportswear brand that redefines a style. Killer Loop is the Benetton brand that edgily interprets "street" vibrations. exclusive sports clubs and a strong sense of individuality. with a resolute and distinctive style. . The brand’s new store concept reflects the same values and highlights their emotional content. It is inspired by teenagers’ favorite role models and icons. Its clean and elegant collections display a blend of the American college. Killer Loop A fashion brand for young adults.

As Tadao Ando says. This project included the creation of study areas. The role of the new architecture is to bring out the charm and strength of the ancient villa and to give birth to a reciprocal. using a form of communication which no longer relies only on the usual kinds of advertising. These artist-experimenters are accompanied along their research path by leading figures in art and communication. Fabrica has chosen to back the hidden creativity of young artists/researchers from all over the world. each other. cinema. Benetton’s communication research centre. a talent incubator. laboratories. photography. but conveys industrial culture and the company’s intellect through other media: design. Fabrica is not a school.THEIR COMMUNICATION .A creative think tank Fabrica. The use of natural elements. publishing and the Internet. music. as part of the architecture reaches its climax in the huge elliptical piazza. from design. It is a way of marrying culture and industry. advertising agency or university. offices. Italy in a complex restored and enlarged by Tadao Ando. modern artists come from all over the world to develop innovative projects and explore new directions in myriad avenues of communication. a cinema. social or environmental sciences. a studio of sorts in which young. Fabrica’s aim is to grasp the future by giving innovative exposure to cultural or scientific projects which open a window onto tomorrow’s world. meeting and refreshment areas. It is an applied creativity laboratory. the Internet. music and film to photography. Fabrica’s challenge is both an innovative and international one. such as light and air. was set up in 1994. Communication research at Fabrica services a wide variety of social causes and disciplines such as economics. publishing. the two put their trust in. blurring the boundaries of culture and language and transgressing the traditional borders between a diverse range of communication mediums. facilities such as a library and an auditorium. in Fabrica “there is architecture of the past and the present. The fruit of the Group’s cultural legacy is based in Treviso. cathartic . and draw inspiration from.

have been given due attention. between people and history or nature.relationship between old and new in an atmosphere of complete harmony. . They act as places for communion and communication between people. Therefore. which normally play a secondary or insignificant role. places which encourage dialogue between people from different backgrounds”. transcending the limits of a specific period. even the transit areas.

. Asia.2008) Retail spaces that sell the brand’s design articles and double as multiethnic and multimedia spaces where concerts. Latin America). experimentation and research are keys to this process and the team is committed to exploring innovative ways of interaction using new forms of networked systems. interiors and industrial design. including “Ideas on the Table” and “Fab Tab” for Paola C. Apart from the development of Internet sites that have won many international awards.. the Arab world. Ten by Ten A new piece of Internet art that automatically collects the top 100 words and pictures in the world. the site dad 15 million visitors and over 200. Design Fabrica's young designers are working on innovative projects regarding product.2008) Fabrica’s young designers have created numerous design collections for major international brands. input and display devices. in order to support and encourage independent voices from the "rest of the world" (particularly Africa. Design Highlights Fabrica Features (2000 . screenings. These range from new shop and exhibition layouts to collections of objects using new styles and expressions. Interactive Media projects also address video art. Interactive Media Highlights FLIPBOOK! An interactive animation project that enables anyone to draw an animate story.000 animations were uploaded. Interactive Media The exploration of the new opportunities offered by interactive media is the focal point of the work of Fabrica’s young Web designers. “Liquid Lights” for Metalarte and garden furnishing accessories for Casamania.Cinema and Video Fabrica has co-produced a number of films and videos that competed at the leading international film festivals. new ideas and materials to create the forms of the future. live performances and workshops offer major opportunities for people to meet. than upload it and share it online. every hour. Product Collections (2002 . based on what's happening in the news. interactive games and multimedia events. In just a few months.

Shrinivas. Philip Glass. social and economic development of our planet presented for the first time at the “Fabrica: les yeux ouverts” exhibition Centre Pompidou. for which Fabrica often handles the photography. the Kronos Quartet. At Fabrica Young musicians come together to give new forms of expression to music through the artistic use of multimedia resources and the exploration of alternative languages in sound. Berlin's Cinema Festival and the Brisbane Music Festival.Music Music is another area in which Fabrica explores new forms of communication through the creativity of artist experimenters from around the world. Lavoratori (black and white photo report on immigrants in north-eastern Italy). Publishing Activity in traditional media forms. Photography Photography is undoubtedly central to Fabrica’s research work. Kosovars (portraits of Kosovan refugees in Albanian camps). Fabrica Musica has set up collaborations with high profile international artists like Michael Nyman. like publishing. Fabrica Forma Fotografia (2006-2008) An international award for a social documentary photographic project jointly launched by Fabrica and Forma. U. Examples include Prayer (a collection of modern prayers). has produced a major series of publications. . Heiner Goebbels and Koichi Makigami. London's Barbican Centre. A photographer’s eye is behind many of Benetton Group’s communication campaigns and also behind photo reportages. the International Centre for Photography. exhibitions and publishing projects. in association with prestigious festivals and concert halls such as the RomaEuropa Festival. artistic. Mail Me (research for the design of a new mailbox). All soundtracks for videos produced by Fabrica are composed by the department. cultural. Paris. Photography Highlights I SEE (2006) A long journey in search of the current directions of the historical. 1000 Extra/Ordinary objects (the craziest objects of the twentieth century).

its three editions were published in four languages. . fashion and toys. an American bi-monthly cultural and lifestyle publication. under the editorship of Tibor Kalman. such as ecology. The magazine has received media accolades from all over the world. until now. It is sold in over 40 countries. which featured the 25 most influential design objects of the past 25 years. above all else. today COLORS is part of the publishing activity of Fabrica. a documentary trilogy produced in Canada that explores the evolution of magazines from their European origins to their current popularity and the powerful influence they have on our social. wars around the world. Using this visual language. restored and enlarged by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. COLORS' editorial offices are situated in Fabrica's architectural complex. COLORS' themes alternate between the challengingly serious. The full series of COLORS issues was included in the 25/25 exhibition at the Design Museum. Pictures are. Benetton's communication research centre. under Tibor Kalman’s editorship. in the ranking of the 51 best magazines of all times. COLORS is a quarterly magazine read by young adults across the world. and the frankly frivolous such as shopping. It has stirred public attention to topics and themes originating in areas of the world that other publications seldom write about with depth and freshness. Recently Colors has been included in Inside the great magazines. with the premise that diversity is positive and that all cultures have equal value. the fight against aids. one of the most popular and critically acclaimed sites on the Internet.PROJECTS Colors Magazine Established in 1991. such as for example Good Magazine. and it has a network of external collaborators in the four corners of the earth. COLORS is also a website. Over the years COLORS has become a unique point of reference in the global publishing world. London (29 March-22 June 2007). political and cultural identities. COLORS' expressive medium: a method that is universal and reaches the greatest number of people with a strong. which included the first thirteen issues. immediate impact.

Since 2006. Fabrica Features Fabrica features is an ongoing series on design collections. while maintaining quality and vision. Paris. COLORS Notebook is a “special” issue of COLORS. Fabrica Features is also a network of commercial and cultural spaces which are currently opened in Bologna and Montecatini (Italy). to give voice to those categories of humanity no one wants to listen to. thousands of COLORS Notebooks have been distributed around the world. Each COLORS Notebook sent back to COLORS is totally unique. Istanbul (Turkey) and Hong Kong.Colors Notebook COLORS Notebook is the fruit of a project launched by COLORS Magazine in collaboration with the Pompidou Centre. Rotterdam. who filled and continue to fill their Notebooks with messages of creativity. imagination. oppression. infused with their fresh and imaginative visions. anxiety. desperation. it contains 50 blank pages so whoever receives it can express themselves as they like in any way they want. all different yet all alike. editing or censure. London and now Porto. just as the artistic community at Fabrica. Fabrica Features exhibits are constantly changing and evolving. A COLORS issue with no filters. and Reporters Without Borders. the association which sustains freedom of speech and defends journalists across the world. An issue in which anyone is free to tell their story and send a message to the world through their words. Thousands of people. . with temporary stores in Paris. Lisbon (Portugal). Each piece is designed by the young artists of Fabrica. A different way of really giving voice to “the rest of the world”. featuring useful and practical objects. for an open-minded audience. drawings or photos.

resources. activists. sociologists. multimedia and multipurpose space where concerts. Following the attention shown to this project by international media and the high number of visitors. environment and society.Fabrica Features is a multiethnic. scientists and others to share their visions about the future of our planet with a broad public and let them decide if either they agree up on their thoughts or not. Further editions will take place in the next future. Les Yeux Ouverts Fabrica: Les Yeux Ouverts is the exhibition curated by the Centre Pompidou and presented in Paris in autumn 2006. at the Shanghai Art Museum. visionary and conceptual side through films and installations. the exhibition has become a wandering project. presented at the Triennale in Milan during summer 2007 and hosted in autumn 2007 in China. live performances. demonstrating its documentary work through COLORS and photo reportages. . economy. thus contributing to the awareness of our relationship with the planet while supplying positive and thoughtful answers regarding major global issues. The visions are categorized into five areas: culture. Every category has its own color. Stock Exchange of Visions The Stock Exchange of Visions project was initiated to provide a platform for the world leading artists. single-artist shows and workshops become key opportunities for gathering together. The installation is a site-specific knowledge hub while the website provides global access to the visions of the future collected by the project. From 18th January to 2nd March 2008 Fabrica: les yeux ouverts was hosted at the Shiodomeitalia Creative Center in Tokyo. video shows. Resources Food Economy Culture Art Design Mass media Morality War and peace Religion Environment Cities Houses Animals Earth Water Evolution Society Family death Sex Politics Technology Human rights Communication Money Natural resources Globalization Energy Migration Mobility Corporations Growth Balances Consumerism Responsibility Visionaries from diverse nationalities and cultures who hail from a wide range of specialties have provided insight into their vision for the future. Stock Exchange of Visions is in constant evolution. and its more artistic. It showcases Fabrica’s many different “souls”. conferences. Stock Exchange of Visions consists of an interactive installation and website which allows the participant to access the growing content of the project and interact with it.

the world. while the website provides constant global access to the content of the project. which has been presented at the main cultural outlets of Europe. The objective of this traveling installation is to allow visitors to have an interactive physical experience with the visions of the future. The installation features a revolutionary interactive menu to access the visions of the future. The life-size video screen aims to create a dialogue sphere between the selected visionary and the installation participant. . which are projected onto a life-size video screen.Installation The Stock Exchange of Visions installation creates an on-site. The Stock Exchange of Visions Installation is a traveling installation. interactive knowledge experience. The installation was first seen at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris. the second presentation will be the Trienale of Milan and the next stage.

and Gaetano Cozzi’s house. Benetton’s communication research centre. In this field of research and experimentation. Some of these. artistic and musical events. in the Palazzo Bomben the Foundation has exposition rooms and an auditorium where it organizes cultural. It also organizes multiple initiatives at its headquarters which is comprised of two prestigious historic buildings. short courses. reflect the strong links which the Group has traditionally maintained with its territorial roots. The main field of scientific activity concerns the knowledge. devoted particularly to the city and the youth and school world. a campaign of study and publications is organized on a site designated by an international jury who then awards the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens. to its historic victories in Formula One. and Colors. such as the Leleque Museum under the patronage of Benetton in Patagonia or the Pivano Library. such as the Benetton Foundation. volleyball and basketball. with the aim of safeguarding and raising awareness of natural heritage.CULTURE AND SOCIETY A bridge between culture and society The Benetton Group has long been involved in a series of cultural. Always with an international spirit. one of the great engravers of 20th-century Italy. social. Others reflect the Group’s international outlook. but an important social element. It has received some important donations: the works of Lino Bianchi Barriviera. maps and images archive. comprised of a library which contains more than sixty thousand volumes. Benetton Foundation The Benetton Foundation. the magazine about the rest of the world. established in 1987. the libraries of Ippolito Pizzetti and Fernanda Pivano. study trips and experimental workshops. In the Palazzo Caotorta. promotes initiatives on both international and local levels. the Foundation organizes seminars. study and management of landscape. Moreover. From its involvement in rugby. artistic and sporting activities. are Fabrica. which focuses on issues relating to the preservation and promotion of the local culture and landscape heritage. The social commitment of the Benetton Group has been developing for decades thanks to the strong relationship and cooperation with renowned international non profit organizations. the Foundation collaborates to the construction of a new concept Europeon University. the group promotes not only the quest for competitive excellence. the Benetton Foundation also boasts a comprehensive documentation centre. . During the year. Moreover. The territorial ties are also an important component of Benetton’s approach to sport. scientific. open to research and a desire of documentation.

research and the wellbeing of the community and therefore appointed Reggio Children as the pedagogic consultant for the new school. One hundred meters away from the “La Trochita” rails. Sisley Volley 9 and Benetton Basket 5. For the Group. testimony. documents and photographs narrate 13. Benetton Group placed great importance on social interaction. It is the first and only such structure dedicated to the history of Patagonia. and of Carlo Benetton. thanks to which Benetton Rugby has collected 13 league championships. The Leleque Museum narrates the experience of indigenous peoples and immigrants in Patagonia. highlighting Benetton’s profound link with its roots and its hometown in a context that is not only competitive but also social. Its purpose is to provide an essential service which will improve the quality of life and work of the Group employees. beliefs. the Leleque museum was inaugurated as the result of the will and passion of both Pablo Korchenewski. Basketball and Volleyball teams in Treviso. including archaeological remains. . visitors. More than 15.Museo Leleque Under the patronage of Benetton in Patagonia. immersed in the sound of the wind. challenge. at the very foot of the Andes. In planning an educational facility aimed at excellence.000 years of history and culture of a mythical land. who has devoted an entire lifetime to collecting artefacts of Patagonian populations. and religious rites are some of the issues approached in this long history.000 exhibits. SPORTS SPONSORSHIP Benetton Group has for many years sponsored the Rugby. can appreciate and discover their history. sport and business have the same philosophy: passion. the changes undergone by the societies living in the territory and the relationship between different ethnic groups. and give support to the community. and conscious of the ethic and social role of its corporate culture. Over the years this has translated into numerous victories. Ponzano Children Benetton has always held strong links with its town of origin and was keen to offer its help in creating a children’s centre. in the same environment inhabited by Indians thousands of years ago. Their conflicts. The centre was designed by Alberto Campo Baeza. an internationally renowned Spanish architect. competition and results.

passion. enjoyable. Published by: Skira . enthusiasm.EDITORIAL PROJECTS Over the years. through the words of its founder. originating from a passionate interest for architectural projects that transform the workplace into a functional. the heady scent of victory. attractive environment where very diverse people meet and communicate. avant garde technology: these are the ingredients of Benetton’s adventure in the motor-racing world. Color. These books contain experiences and passions that have become stories to tell through words and images. An anti-celebratory book. editorial activity has produced projects which are particularly representative of Benetton Group’s entrepreneurial culture. Gilberto Benetton. Published by: Skira Benetton Formula 1. dating from 1964 to the present. Highlights: Benetton Basket – Twenty-five years (2006) The volume records the history of the famous Italian basketball team. between Benetton Group and art. Published by: Skira Architecture for Benetton (2004) A chronicle in pictures of the relationship. team spirit. a story (2006) A volume to narrate the near twenty-year-experience in F1. year after year.

Benetton launched a similar campaign titled “All the colors in the World. Toscani portrayed a picture of racial harmony and world peace. But Luciano and Toscani soon realized that Benetton advertisements had to stand apart from the rest of the competition. As one company document put it: “Benetton believes that it is important for companies to take a stance in the real world instead of using their advertising budget to perpetuate the myth that they can make consumers happy through the mere purchase of their product. The company has opted for a communication strategy in which issues and not clothes. play the lead part. The company has decided to devote some of its advertising budget to communicate on themes relevant to young and old people worldwide. it evoked negative sentiments especially . In 1982. the kids engaged in a variety of playful acts. Luciano hired Oliviero Toscani. While the company received several letters of praise for company’s message on racial integration. In 1984. By linking the varying colors in the Benetton collection to the diverse “colors” of its world customers. Colorfully dressed in Benetton attire. Toscani’s first theme featured teenagers and kids from culturally diverse nations. contained within a dark green rectangle).” showing groups of teenagers and kids from different countries and ethnic groups dressed in Benetton clothing. They showed groups of young people wearing Benetton clothing. They decided to promote Benetton as a ‘life style accessory’ and not as a clothing brand. with the company logo in the corner. Toscani’s initial advertisements were conventional. Benetton believed in pursuing an unconventional communication strategy. It was from these advertisements that the trademark “United Colors of Benetton” emerged. Benetton advertisements had largely focused on its products and logo (stylized knot of yarn with word Benetton printed under it.EVOLUTION OF BENETTON’S COMMUNICATION STRATEGY -UNCONVENTIONAL ADVERTISING From the early 1980s.” Until the 1980s. a prominent fashion and advertisements photographer to head Benetton’s advertising department.

Benetton aimed to create a feeling of world peace and harmony. commented on this multi-race theme: “Nothing more is more like a fashion photograph than another fashion photograph. By definition. united by a globe and a chain with the peace symbol. South Africa. The message read: “All colors are equal. just as all men are equal. we showed a group. Director of Eldorado Agency that handled Benetton’s advertising account. we started out with the notion of color. to convey this idea of colors. You show some lovely looking models and that’s it. Israelis and Arabs. Benetton means colors. Leonardo de Vinci and Julius Caesar.” In 1985. Israel and Germany. New advertisements featured Adam and Eve. Benetton started blending culture and legends.” Through such advertisements.” . With Benetton. So.” Similar campaigns featured animals. In 1988. advertisements included two black boys kissing each other. Bruno Suter. It was fantastic.a wolf and a lamb with the tagline: “United Friends of Benetton. all captioned with the slogan: “United Superstars of Benetton. so exhilarating to show the products in such a new and simple way. Similar themed advertisements were launched for other countries in political battles with each other: England and Argentina. England and the US. made up of people with different colored skin. Joan of Arc and Marilyn Monroe. The globe became a symbol of unification. with little US and USSR flags in their hair and painted on their cheeks with the tagline “United Colors of Benetton. Iran and Iraq.” In 1986. the two little black boys appeared again. and appeared on all the posters that year.

By removing these images from their familiar contexts and putting them in a new context they are more likely to be noticed and given the attention they deserve as the viewer becomes involved in the process of answering the questions: What does this image mean? Why does this image appear with a Benetton logo? How do I feel about the subject of the image? What can I do?” Famous advertisements during the late 1980s included a black hand and a white hand linked by a handcuff and a black woman breast-feeding a white baby. His new advertisements neither showed the products nor the logo. Benetton decided to cancel its agreement with outside advertising agencies and develop campaigns in house. However.In 1989. at about one-third the cost of its competitors. Toscani’s photos were discussed by the advertising team and then shown to Luciano for final approval. a black child sleeping among a pile of white teddy-bears. Benetton maintained that such photos symbolized universal brotherhood.white baby advertisement was severely criticized by many who thought that Benetton was reminding blacks of the days of slavery when black women breast-fed white babies. tubes of personality tests. Other advertisements with a similar message included a white wolf and a black sheep nose to nose. With less than ten people managing the entire process. a little black hand on a big white hand. the other white) facing each other sitting on their potties. Since Benetton’s clothing was sold in various markets with different style preferences. Toscani turned his focus to photos that stimulated thinking. Benetton could produce advertisements. miners and bakers united by the black of the soot or coal and the white of the flour.” Luciano explained this decision: “Using these images in this unconventional way is an effort by Benetton to break through the complacency that exists in our society due to the constant flow of even the most horrendous realities communicated through conventional media such as the evening news or the morning paper. . The knot logo was replaced with a small green rectangle with the tagline “United Colors of Benetton. The black woman. a piano duo showing little white hands being helped by big black hands. two children (one black.

Toscani went one step further by embracing “reality advertising. But some liked it. war. a group of African refugees. they do not even imply it. political violence. In the company’s view. Many wanted it to be banned.” In spite of the controversy his advertisements had generated. the advertisement simply conveyed the beauty of new life and the universal idea of love. including the Pope. The advertisements included a cemetery (signifying war deaths). etc. Toscani explained the company’s strategy: “Unlike traditional adverts. In 1992. a family weeping before the bloodied corpse of a Mafioso and two Indians caught in a flood in Calcutta.In 1991. The image of the baby with the umbilical cord evoked mixed responses. They do not show you a fictitious reality in which you will be irresistible if you make use of our products. only our logo. They do not tell anyone to buy our clothes. He selected various photojournalistic images related to the AIDS crisis. the image was exhibited in a Flemish museum as part of a show celebrating the images of motherhood. The photo triggered off a huge controversy throughout Europe. a car in flames after a Mafia bombing. These appeared in various journals and magazines as well as on billboards without written text except for the conspicuous insertion of the green and white Benetton logo. exile. All they attempt to do is promote a discussion about issues which people would normally glide over if they approached them from other channels. many different brightly colored condoms and a baby with an umbilical cord. Toscani introduced political themes in Benetton’s advertisements. One advertisement featuring a priest and nun kissing offended the religious sentiments of many. Toscani introduced a number of advertisements that attempted to draw public attention to important social problems. an African guerrilla holding a Kalashnikov and a human leg bone.” Advertisements included: a dying AIDS victim with his family at his bedside. our images usually have no copy and no product. a boat overcrowded with Albanians. For example. issues we feel should be more widely discussed. environmental disaster. .

The booklet also contained carefully selected quotes from the Dalai Lama and the Pope. with stickers announcing different ethnic groups “white. Benetton launched a year. The booklet included photos of the inmates and interviews about their life and the punishment. A special booklet and video was also released that projected the reality and futility of capital punishment. appeared on billboards and in major publications in Europe.” then they would be less inclined to see them executed.long $15 million global advertising campaign called “We. no matter what the outside skin color was. Some advertisements also promoted homosexuality: two smiling men cheek to cheek. three identical human hearts. on Death Row.” This campaign.Benetton also launched an advertisement with a series of masculine and feminine genitals.” A more shocking advertisement showed close-ups of various parts of the human body tattooed with the English abbreviation “HIV Positive. In January 2000. Benetton believed that if the public saw these inmates as “people. etc. black. printing their names and dates of execution.” The tattoo mark was similar to the numbers tattooed by Nazis on concentration camp white and the other black. holding an Asian baby. Other controversial advertisements included a black stallion mounting a white mare. Toscani developed the campaign after spending more than two years visiting death row prisoners in several American prisons. The hearts portrayed that all were same inside. challenging the right of the state to execute its citizens. which featured 26 US prisoners who had been sentenced to death. two women. yellow”. The advertisements featured full color faces of death-row inmates. of different ages and of different colors with the label “United Colors of Benetton. America and Asia and on its website. wrapped in the same blanket. .

arguing that it had been misled regarding the use of the photos. Director of Communications for Benetton US in New York defended the campaign: “We don’t develop contrived marketing campaigns that are merely designed to sell products. Over the years. Many resented that the campaigns did not mention how the prisoners felt about the serious crimes they had committed. We don’t apologize for the fact that dual purposes can be achieved.” The state of Missouri (US) where the inmates in question were imprisoned filed a suit against Benetton. the more publicity Benetton seemed to get. which featured child labor. In 1995. they are causing unnecessary pain and distress to the families of the innocent people killed by the men the campaign intends to humanize. One website called Pro-death penalty. this advertisement won the Eurobest Award). Mark Major. . many newspapers in various countries had refused to accept Benetton advertisements. Benetton was also sued by many retail outlets. which believed the provocative advertisements drove away customers. It’s definitely something that people at Benetton feel very strongly about.The campaign resulted in widespread protests from individuals and governments.” and a bird stuck in an oil slick.000 to the Missouri Crime Victims Compensation Fund. it’s not a contrived topic. When we talk about death row or AIDS or war or peace. The advertisement featuring the newborn baby with the uncut umbilical cord was withdrawn from the media in Italy. The photo showing a priest and a nun kissing was promptly banned by the Italian Advertising Authority (The Vatican took a stern view but in wrote: “While Benetton tries to improve their market share in the US. We can raise brand awareness that we are a company that cares about capital punishment and we can get people engaged in the topic.” Responding to such allegations. the human body stamped “HIV Positive. France and the UK. The families of the victims and prisoners objected strongly to the campaign and accused Benetton of glamorizing murderers while ignoring the crimes they had committed. This lawsuit was settled in June 2001 when Benetton agreed to write letters of apology to the four Missouri families whose relatives were murdered by the inmates featured in the ads and to donate $50. But the more the company’s advertisements were banned. government authorities in Germany banned some Benetton advertisements.

Toscani had hoped that this campaign would have a positive impact in the US where about 98 inmates had been executed in 1999. Collaboration with the UN was an ongoing effort for Benetton. this has already happened.” In the US. in collaboration with the United Nations (UN). The following year Benetton and the UN came together again for a worldwide campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. calling the death row images “terribly insensitive. A special issue of Colors Magazine was published for the campaign. to a discussion of the issues themselves. Our hope is that people will move from the sterile discussion of whether or not a company is entitled to illustrate its point of view in its advertising campaigns. . due to the increasing furor. devoted entirely to voluntary effort. we hope to become the vehicle for discussion and not its focus. but we believe that all worthwhile stances will have supporters and detractors. Benetton launched a campaign called International Year of Volunteers. “Volunteers” was Benetton’s first campaign after Toscani’s exit and was developed by new Creative Director James Mollison. The campaign emphasized that devoting one’s time and energy to others led the way to selfimprovement and a better quality of life. weekly magazines. Benetton organized a fund raising campaign for Kosovo with the collaboration of UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). In September 2001. As more and more people understand our position and the urgency of these issues. The company and the UN first worked together in 1996 for the World Food Summit organized by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) to discuss the problem of hunger in developing countries. In 1999. But.” Sears ended its contract even after Benetton agreed to allow the retailer to preview future ads. In various countries. Such campaigns were shown throughout the world in newspapers.Luciano Benetton responded to retailers and other protestors about its questionable advertising themes: “We are aware of the controversy that some of our images have caused. Toscani believed that the sharp criticism in the US was not justified as Europe had more or less banned the death penalty. women’s and lifestyle magazines and also on billboards located in major cities. Toscani resigned in May 2000. retailer Sears canceled an exclusive $100 million contract to sell a line of Benetton clothes.

Developed with a budget of $10 million dollars. Others were discovered on the street in bars or riding the subway. the magazine was sold in eighty countries. Launched in 1991. Each edition of the magazine took an issue. In May 2003. “The Race Issue”. Over the years. boy scouts in Oman. The models used in the campaign were not professionals. English-Spanish and English-French.war. Colombian soldiers. changing her race to Indian. which featured “Violence” as the central issue. but brought Benetton massive publicity. in an attempt to break the barriers of language and culture throughout the world. By 2002. birth. which featured a computer-generated picture of the Queen. English-German. religion. the magazine had featured more than 5000 models. One model was a poet who performed at local coffee houses. The magazine was launched in four bilingual languages: English-Italian.Other campaigns following Toscani’s exit suggested that Benetton was changing its communication strategy. created a huge furor in the English press. etc. slavery etc. race. immigration. Benetton launched the 56th volume of Colors. Colors targeted young people across the world. An important aspect of Benetton’s communication strategy was its Colors magazine. catalog and TV media. this campaign was available in print. ecology. The company started showcasing advertisements featuring exuberant models frolicking in colorful knitwear against a white background. travel. including Wodaabe warriors in Nigeria. .

we must take our communication in another direction. So in the 1960s advertisers started showing leggy models to sell cars. model and merchandising. but it’s so rich and powerful that it’s very difficult for it to change. After that it started presenting products. The product took a back seat and what was sold was a symbol. Then. In the early twentieth century advertising focused on a company’s buildings and machines. To be really contemporary. He believed in communicating to the world in a less traditional way.” Toscani saw himself not as an advertiser. We can’t be like ostriches who put their head in the sand. consumers will work out for themselves that the products are good. The problem with this technique is that the message is always based on consumers’ shortcomings and makes them feel guilty. advertising must become an artistic product in itself. ‘if you haven’t got this product. On the other hand. since all products started looking alike. like a play or a film. The fact is that advertisers must explain the client company’s philosophy. I’m not responsible for its economics.. It wants to perpetuate the system to keep on living off it. I’m aware that.OLIVIERO TOSCANI’S ADVERTISING PHILOSOPHY The strong force behind Benetton’s advertisements was Oliviero Toscani who created advertisements the less traditional way. All they know how to do is repeat what’s already been done. they could no longer be at the heart of the message. to report something that exists. Not the one usually followed by most companies. Toscani’s responsibility. it would be like throwing money away if we only explained that our product is better than the competition’s. That’s my work. if you buy a certain brand of sports shoes you can play like Ronaldo even if you can’t kick a ball. was to document social realities rather than promote sales. That has never happened because the only things that condition the industry are money and marketing managers. Advertising should give something more. He emphasized the need for creativity: “They have to be more creative.” Toscani explained his role in Benetton: “Nobody ever told me my job was to sell anything. Benetton has given me incredible freedom to propose issues that should be communicated. The industry is lagging behind social trends. If they’re successful. in the apparel business. but as a reporter-photographer. It tells them. Toscani identified a number of drawbacks in traditional advertising: “There is a crisis in advertising.when there’s an obvious connection between product. having a relatively big budget. who are idiots. but the advertising industry couldn’t care less about creativity. The long legs offered added value. To capture their attention. Toscani believed that the industry as a whole had to change the way advertisements were used as consumer-spending patterns had changed over the years.” . I’m responsible for the company’s communications. Mr. you’re out of it. an up-to-date company. as Benetton’s creative director.. at least.

This campaign covered around 30 countries and the stories and photos taken from these countries were used in Colors. . People who respect our clothing line are the only ones that actually buy it.” However. our sales will greatly increase.He latter added: “To be successful advertising has to disconnect the message from the product and forget about marketing. In reality Benetton creates an empowered viewer who will buy their product through shock value. Benetton. maintained that the company would still continue with its “socially responsible” status by focusing on non-controversial themes like racial discrimination. empowerment. which standardizes everything. etc. Benetton’s advertisements started featuring conventional images. I don’t do the same thing other people do. I’ve proved that it can be profitable.” LOOKING AHEAD One leading business school publication summarized Benetton’s advertisements: “They seem to take the virtuous stand for the betterment of humanity and thus create a sense of power in the viewer who agrees with the safe. in early 2003. Benetton announced it would revert to a more conventional advertising strategy. To that effect. Consumers want to buy our clothes because they are attractive and have a high quality reputation. AIDS awareness. and not a political or governmental company. he was supportive of the company’s decision not to move away from highlighting social causes. Let’s show the world that we make great clothing. Benetton in association with UN’s World Food Programme. we will attract more business. however. By empowering the viewer. the company associates itself with engineered feelings of empowerment and righteousness. Through the use of such images Benetton as a company has become an icon for this kind of protest in advertising which tries to claim the ability for social change. If we can undo the damage that we have already caused in the minds of many consumers by ceasing to offend them. and memorability. By picturing our stylish clothes. launched a year. called Food for Life. Advertising people hate me but they have to admit that I’ve won. the consumer. not that we have controversial opinions on various subjects. child labor. under the title “Hunger. I use products to focus on the major problems besetting humanity.teenagers in colorful Benetton clothing. despite the political issues that we represent.” The images in this campaign showed crisis and poverty. Since I’ve been working for Benetton. The company’s website highlighted its advertising strategy for the future: “We need to have models wearing our clothes by UCB in our advertisements. We need to show consumers that we are an actual clothing line. When questioned about Benetton’s new strategy of using models and products to advertise.” Following Toscani’s exit. the company has grown tenfold. poverty.” From 2001.long $16 million communication campaign. Toscani just commented: “It’s a waste of money. politically correct message. even if the message is made with shocking images. .com www.Bibliography Global Retailing www.benetton.crito.ICFAI highered.un.

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