Apology/Update: Turns out it wasn’t Benetton (see Jill’s comment below). The ads were never sanctioned by them. So you could replace this post with a “someone’s so sick they think this is a practical joke”.
Blr Bytes again points me to something thought-provoking: a Benetton ad(?) “issued in public interest”, part of a series called ‘Colours of Domestic Violence‘.
My first instinctive response was ‘ugh’. And the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that it’s the right response. The ads are not just in bad taste, they trivialise and use domestic violence in a way that is absolutely repulsive.
Each of them is a typical Benetton ad – good looking models wearing trendy Benetton clothes against a plain background and just the little green block with the UCB tagline to identify the brand. Except, it isn’t the UCB tagline. It says “colours of domestic violence”. And the good looking models are wearing, in addition to the trendy clothes, bruises.
What do I see, when I see the ad? (No, I’m not putting up the visual: follow the link above if you want to see it.) I see Benetton clothes worn by domestic violence survivors. Benetton first, clothes next, survivors last. Well, you may say, that’s not necessarily true; someone might see the domestic violence first, or the survivor first.
I don’t think so. The focus of each of the ads is on the clothes: they occupy the most space, are centrally placed, the models are obviously showing off the clothes: posture, body language, all indicative of a typical clothing ad. The logo is right where you’d expect it to be, and you know this is Benetton even without reading the tagline or the ‘public interest’ line at the bottom.
All of that makes me assume the point of the ads is to sell the clothes, piggybacking on the shock value of bringing Domestic Violence into the open.
Another campaign in the recent past talked about Domestic Violence: remember Ponds’ Chehra kahe dil ki baat? The reason I wasn’t disgusted by that campaign was the demonstrated good faith effort to address the issue at hand: the ad announced that part of the revenues from the products were going to go towards helping Domestic Violence survivors. Product and brand placement were discreet and secondary.
Domestic Violence is pain, humiliation, abuse. It is stigma and self-doubt and ugliness. It is a lot of things that need to be talked about, but it is not a vehicle to sell clothes on.
*Cross-posted. Sort of.
Filed under: Raving and Ranting | 8 Comments »