“Fun” Diesel “Kicking Ass” controversial ads (from WaveMetrix media)

    WaveMetrix analysis shows how brands can utilise viral videos to engage consumers with a new message or concept. The recent “Kicking Ass” viral ads by Diesel have successfully engaged consumers and prompted them to associate the Diesel brand … Continue reading

Controversial issues about brand United Colors of Benetton

United Colors of Benetton which is a Italian brand focus more on social issues than product marketingThe fame, the force and the messages behind Benetton’s ads began gained fame and recognition from 1986 on. All their ads have something to say… sometimes they it’s loud and clear and sometimes its under a beautiful controversial image! The point is that you need lots of creativity, talent and courage to do these kinds of ads. Ads that mean something, that support a cause, that have an important message… or ads that simply show different colors together.

Benetton’s strategy of using its symbolic photography to highlight the key social and political issues of our time made the brand synonymous with ‘shock advertising’. The reportage style – the only nod to conventional marketing was the presence of Benetton’s green logo – was created in-house by Oliviero Toscani, a photographer and Benetton’s creative director from 1982 to 2000. Here is Marketing’s pick of the most memorable ads:


1989: A picture of a black woman breastfeeding a white baby was part of Benetton’s anti-racism campaign. The ad drew both brickbats – it was withdrawn after critics saw it as an unfortunate reminder of how slaves had been used to nurse white babies – and subsequently plaudits, at the Cannes Advertising Festival.


1991: An image of a mucus-covered new-born baby was intended as an ‘anthem to life’, but ended up as one of the brand’s most censured images.


1992: At the height of the AIDS epidemic, Benetton used a photograph of a real-life death scene. The ad, featuring David Kirby minutes after his death in hospital in 1990, won the 1991 World Press Photo Award, but magazines such as Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire refused to run it.


1996: Toscani created this ad featuring three identical ‘human hearts’ to highlight racism. The organs used were actually pig hearts.


2000: The anti-death-penalty campaign created a firestorm for its sympathetic portrayal of convicted murderers on death row. Protests came from the state of Missouri, where some prisoners were photographed; consumers; the families of the inmates’ victims; and department store Sears, which refused to stock Benetton products. The controversy caused Toscani to resign.


2003: Benetton was approached by the World Food Programme of the United Nations to help highlight world hunger. The result was a series of ads featuring people in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.


2011: Benetton’s ‘Unhate’ campaign featured world leaders ‘kissing’ their adversaries. One of Pope Benedict XVI locking lips with Egypt’s Ahmed el-Tayeb, imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo was withdrawn hours after launch and its denouncement by the Vatican. The campaign won the 2012 Press Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity for ‘jumping off the page’ and into online conversation.

Research into celebrity endorsement (1)

Endorsement is a channel of brand communication in which a celebrity acts as the brand’s spokesperson and certifies the brand’s claim and position by extending his/her personality, popularity, stature in the society or expertise in the field to the brand. In a market with a very high proliferation of local, regional and international brands, celebrity endorsement was thought to provide a distinct differentiation. Celebrities serve not only to create and maintain attention but also to achieve high recall rates for marcom messages in today’s highly cluttered environments.

However, as branding evolves as a discipline companies must be extra cautious to utilize every possible channel of communication rather than just a celebrity endorsement.

Traditional explanations of celebrity endorsement persuasion effects are based on the source effects literature and find that 1) celebrity endorsement increases the attention paid to an ad (Buttle, Raymond, and Danziger 2000); 2) celebrities are generally attractive, which helps persuasion when consumers are worried about social acceptance and others’ opinions (DeBono and Harnish 1988) or when the product is attractiveness-related (Kahle and Homer 1985, Kamins 1990); 3) celebrities may be credible sources if they have expertise in a particular area, such as an athlete endorsing shoes(Ratneshwar and Chiaken 1991) or a beautiful model endorsing make-up (Baker and Churchill 1983); and 4) celebrities are often well-liked, possibly leading to identification and consumer persuasion in an attempt to seek some type of relationship with the celebrity (Belch and Belch 2007). In traditional dual process models (e.g. ELM; Petty, Cacioppo, and Schumann 1983), celebrities are most often considered a peripheral cue: they are important in persuasion only when consumers are not involved in the product category or in processing the ad. However, celebrities may provide central information when an aspect of the celebrity matches the product (as with beauty products and attractiveness; Kahle and Homer1985).

Celebrity endorsement is recognized as a potentially potent tool in communications, with celebrities viewed as more powerful than anonymous models and campaigns tending to verbalize the meaning of the celebrity in relation to the brand (Brian Moeran, 2003)

Further more, merchandiser must always keep in mind that the purpose is to build the brand and not the celebrity. It is significant to appreciate that just because an individual is famous and considered a celebrity, he/she might not necessarily be an effective endorser.

Extract from John Berger

Soon after we can see, we are aware that we can also be seen. The eye of the other combines with our own eye to make it fully credible that we are part of the visible world…

When in love, the sigh of the beloved has a completeness which no words and no embrace can match: a completeness which only the act of making love can temporarily accommodate.

—<Ways of seeing>   by  John Berger