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Advertising of Benetton

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While seeking out a definition for "Marketing", I found the term to consist of "the development, pricing, distribution, and promotion of ideas, goods and services" (Dominick, 398). Nowadays, when we think of marketing strategies, we immediately think of advertising, why is that? Firstly, it is considered as one of the important elements of marketing. Advertising is one of the few elements that tend to roll most of the different aspects of marketing into one. It is a division of the "general promotion process, along with personal selling, sales promotions, and public relations" (Dominick, 398). In order for a company to succeed, it is almost necessary for them to advertise their product.

Now the question of how advertising came to be and the evolution of its purposes arises. Though it would be quite impossible to give any exact idea as to the period when the first advertisement of any kind made its first appearance, there is no doubt of advertising first occurring in the earliest times. The true history of advertising dates back to the remotest possible times, when an increasing population led every man to make efforts in the race for prominence, which has continued on in some way or another ever since. At that time, however, advertisements were merely scratches on walls, with the occasional clay bricks stenciled with inscriptions by the Babylonians. Advertisements during the middle Ages consisted of town criers shouting what the king wanted to be heard, because so few people were literate (Sampson, 86). Although advertising can be traced back this far, the most significant and true development in the early history of advertising was the invention of movable type in 1440 by Johann Gutenberg. This led to the printing of newspapers, handbills, and other publications from which inevitably rose advertising, as we know it today (Cohen, p.73). To put it simply, advertising serves as an aid to companies that provide goods or services (or both), to sell whatever it is they have to offer.

Most advertisements are often criticized for encouraging materialistic values and promoting that what one possesses is more important than who one is (Presbrey). Advertisers want their ad to stand out so they attempt to do so by using techniques such as humor, ongoing story lines, unexpected dialogue, unusual techniques, attention getting spokespersons, or simply by repeating ads to the extent that it is inevitable for a consumer to remember them (Cohen, p. 96). Advertising is very common and there are many techniques used to entice consumers; unfortunately, some advertisers go to extremes to persuade consumers, which can create social problems. One such extremist is Oliviero Toscani, better known as the photographer and creative director of Benetton (Italian clothing company) advertising. However, Oliviero is not an extremist in the sense of irrationality, but rather quite an organized, intelligent and original creator, who's marketing strategies for Benetton have been known as controversial and somewhat politically incorrect. Before I start analyzing the Marketing strategies of Benetton, I believe a brief history of the company will be useful.

The Benetton family in Ponzano Veneto, Italy founded Benetton in 1965 as an affiliation. In 1985, shareholders associated with the Benetton family put on the market almost 11% of the ordinary shares of the company to the public in Europe. This initial strategy was used to "establish a liquid public market for the company's shares" and to make it easier for the Company to "access the international capital markets". Benetton is the "world leader" in the design, production, and selling of unique informal attire for both genders from first born till middle age. The clothing ofcourse consist of a wide variety of colors and is mostly recognized as knitted garments and casual. In addition to their traditional image, in 1997, Benetton merged with a "Sportsytem" (S.p.A). This new stock added new ranges of brands like Nordica, Rollerblade, and Prince, all of which are sports wear (Bnetton homepage). Benetton officially adopted the trademark, "United Colors of Benetton" in 1989, initiating and formalizing more than ten years strategy to drastically change the image of conventional advertising.

Benetton's advertising campaigns and social communication strategies are a clear echo of present-day culture and society. The "United Colors of Benetton" Campaign transformed the traditional notions of advertising. Their goal was no longer to simply sell their products, the brand name or to create a desire of purchase, but to also promote social concerns, critiques, and ideologies (Jones, 254). It is interesting to see how controversy has accompanied every advertising campaign that Oliviero has created for UCB. In this case, promotion of the product is not the only motivation for advertising; almost more important, the advertising campaigns are hoping to promote the company (UCB). This was mainly achieved by creatively explaining the company's philosophy to the clients. After learning the effects the company philosophy can produce, the advertisers' (Tuscani) desired results are that the consumer will buy a company's products because that company's philosophy appeals to them (Boukhari 2). After critically assessing the various campaigns that ran for United Colors of Benetton, we will be able to see how Tuscani created and expanded the horizons of the company's philosophy. In place of the product, Benetton presented powerful and problematic visual images of social issues of global importance such as: environmental disasters, peace, Aids, terrorism, murder, struggle against racism and most recently, capital punishment, in their advertising campaigns.

This strategy was born of the company's wish to produce images of global concern for it global consumers. The company's strategy was that issues, not clothes, played the lead role. Through time, they opted to utilize issues that appealed and concerned both young and old people. Benetton supposedly believes that it is important to take a standpoint in the real world instead of using their advertising budget to carry on the "myth that they can make consumers happy through the mere purchase of their products". Their advertisements differ in that they do not contain a copy or a product but only the "logo" of the company. They do not act as temptations for the public to immediately go out and buy their products, but rather the adverts spark a discussion about issues that the company feels are not discussed enough. At the end of the day, Benetton wishes to be the drive of the discussions but not the focus (Benetton homepage).

Benetton's new communication strategy started in the spring



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