PONZANO VENETO, Italy — Oliviero Toscani, the creative director of Benetton SpA’s unconventional ad campaigns, has been stirring up more controversy lately — only this time it involves his own job.
Toscani, who is a consultant and not a staff employee for Benetton, has embarked on a collision course with managing director Aldo Palmeri, an old hand at the company who returned to his post in 1992 after two years at Citicorp in Milan.
Toscani has been working with the full support of Luciano Benetton, who has given him wide-ranging control over the firm’s media policy and image.
Toscani hit the boiling point last Friday when he fired off a fax to Palmeri with copies to Luciano Benetton and Laura Pollini, who heads Benetton’s press office.
“Ever since you came back to the company, I can’t seem to work as I did before. Everything has slowed down, bureaucracy and uncertainty have become the rule and only because you want to get involved in a sector you don’t understand,” Toscani said in his fax to Palmeri.
Although Italian press reports have billed the controversy as a divorce between Toscani and Benetton, Toscani explained in a telephone interview Sunday that he isn’t pointing a finger at the company but only at the managing director.
“The managing director is creating problems for me, particularly with respect to production of the corporate magazine, Colors,” Toscani said. Toscani did not explain the problems in detail but said they didn’t have to do with the budget or expenses, “but with vision and point of view.”
“At Benetton, we do a lot of experimentation. We need to create new relationships,” he said.
Toscani protested in particular a recent decision to transfer the production of Colors’ headquarters to Rome from New York. The idea was to integrate the Colors staff with that of Nuova Ecologia, a local publication acquired a few months ago.
Toscani said the move was misguided and that Colors needs a more international perspective.
Luciano Benetton, asked Monday about the clash said: “It’s their problem. They can work it out.”