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How effectively Oliviero Toscani Used shock tactic advertising to raise the brand profile of Benetton

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In 1985 The Company “United Colours of Benetton” Hired the famous and controversial Italian photographer Oliveiro Toscani to help raise the profile of their brand. United Colours of Benetton had been a quite successful brand since its founding in 1980, and Luciano Benetton had 2000 shops in 60 different countries, but when Luciano met Oliviero in 1982 he changed his life and the company. Toscani set out to raise the profile of Benetton, by getting the company talked about. His campaigns were often seen to be offensive by some people but always produced good results.

One of his first campaigns with the company was to get Benetton a familiar brand around the world. As Luciano had stores in 60 different countries, Oliviero found it only right to include these different cultures in their adverts and came up with a “multiracial fiesta of images. ” These images included children of different races laughing together and in one advert a nun and a priest kissing. These adverts caused widespread offence, but were very successful. Toscani was called a “visionary advertising supreme” and became very close friends with Luciano.

After this Toscani used many different images that portrayed his feelings about the world, and the taboo issues that were going on. For example in his next campaign Toscani used real HIV positive models, and also just before the Gulf war broke out he photographed a war cemetery from WW1/2. This image was incredibly powerful but on the day that it was to be released the Gulf was broke out and many magazines decided against placing the advert in their publications as they thought it would be too offensive to readers. Many of who thought that Toscani was trying to profit out of the war.

Toscani had taken “The long road from the glamour of fashion to rawest, most disturbing outposts of human experience” At this high point of the Benetton adverts, when the company was at its peak, they struck a deal with a big department store in America, Sears. This opened up another 800 stores for Benetton and gave Toscani more publicity than ever. Later that year Toscani decided to use the power of Benetton on one last campaign, and on some thing that meant a lot to him and that he had strong views on. Toscani entered America’s Death row and photographed the members of it.

On the adverts the men were pictured looking distressed and had the message “sentenced to death” written over them. In Oliviero’s view all theses prisoners have ever known is violence, although he never denied that they were guilty of murder and deserved punishment, he stated that in a country, which prides itself on freedom, this kind of activity is wrong! The Deathrow campaign cost Benetton $10 million to start up but Toscani believed it would be worth it. When the campaign aired in early January there was uproar all over America. For one particular family this campaign was totally unacceptable.

As one of the adverts contained the face of their 17 year old sons murderer. Oliviero and Tuscani did not take this protest too seriously though as they expected it to soon fizzle out as usual. People accused Toscani of “using his corporate wealth to inflict your political views on people” and soon protests were up around America to boycott all sears stores. This boycott was taken very seriously and eventually Nixon filed a Lawsuit against Toscani and Benetton as he said they entered America’s top security prison under false pretenses.

On the 9th February Toscani was accused of * Fraudulent misrepresentation Trespass by deceit * Exceeding the scope of consent Sears then realized the extent of the protests and the lawsuit and eventually closed all connections with Benetton. Closing down all 800 of their stores. Shortly after Benetton parted company with Toscani, and started to rebuild their company. Toscani effectively raised Benettons brand name, as at one point they were one of the five most recognizable names in the world, but unfortunately Toscani took his views too far for many people. Effective and unique yes, but could Toscani have taken his views any further without offending people? I don’t think so.

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