Domestic violence goes colourful*

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.


8 Responses

  1. Oh and did you see the “what about men too” type comments for the post you linked?

    Between the ghastly ad and the vile comments I had had about enough for the day. 😦

  2. Oh yes. Having had quite a bit of that on this blog, I didn’t want to refer to it. Let me cheer you up – look out for the next post!

  3. I’ve spoken with Benetton’s USA PR person and it is not a Benetton-sanctioned ad. See here for the details.

  4. Saw something on Feministing today that apparently the ad may not be authorised by Benetton – it’s someone’s activism using Benetton themes.

    If I were Benetton I wouldn’t find it encouraging that so many of us thought it was plausible that the corporation would actually plan and run such ads.

  5. Jill: Thanks. I’ll update the post accordingly.

    Tigtog: I would think so, too.

  6. You bet. I’ve worked in DV before and have a law and social work background, so these ads raised my eyebrows because I Wanted to know who was taking this angle to get at the problem. Whomever it is? It’s not Benetton, we now know. 🙂 Always good to go to the source when you can.

  7. […] Apology/Update: Turns out it wasn’t Benetton (see Eco’s comment below and Jill’s on the other blog). The ads were never sanctioned by them. So you could replace this post with a “someone’s so […]

  8. Good morning, Happy Fool’s Day!!!

    A woman wanted a divorce. She went to the courthouse and appeared before the judge.
    The judge reviewed her petition and asked, “Do you have grounds?”
    The woman looked at him quizzically and said, “Grounds? Well, yes, your Honor, we do have about an acre and a half.”
    “No,” said the judge, “What I mean is, do you have a grudge?”
    The bewildered woman replied, “No, we just have a carport.”
    The judge was becoming frustrated. “You’re not getting the point,” he said. “Does he beat you up?”
    The woman replied, “Oh, no I’m up at 6:30 and he doesn’t get up until 7:00.”
    The judge was exasperated. He looked at the woman and asked: “Look, lady, why are you here? What reason do you have for wanting a divorce?”
    The woman replied, “Because my husband and I have a communication problem.”

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

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