BENETTON KEEPS CONTROVERSY BREWING IN ’95

Byline: Sara Gay Forden

MILAN — Benetton is at it again.
The controversial Italian firm’s new ad campaign for 1995 debuted Monday in a U.K. weekly magazine for the homeless, called “The Big Issue,” proceeds of which are donated to charity.
The campaign, which was photographed by Benetton’s image director Oliviero Toscani, consists of two images. The first shows different kinds of barbed wire photographed against a white background. The barbed wire is from South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, Mexico, Lebanon, Japan, Hungary, Brazil, Ireland and Germany, as well as from the gardens of various private properties.
The second image is a jungle of TV aerials shot against a gray sky. The picture “symbolizes the invisible barriers erected by the overcrowding of video images, which not only affect interpersonal relationships, but also people’s perceptions of reality,” according to a Benetton spokeswoman.
The campaign hits the U.S. this week and will appear in newspapers and weekly magazines worldwide, as well as on billboards in 100 countries around the world. In the U.S., it will also appear in the New Yorker, Interview, Rolling Stone and Out magazine.
Earlier this month, a French court found Benetton guilty of exploiting AIDS “in a provocative manner” in its controversial 1993 ad campaign, and ordered the company to pay over $30,000 in damages, as reported.
Although the company spokeswoman declined to specify the total value of the media buy in the current campaign, she did say that Benetton spends roughly 4 percent of its total revenue on communications, including the corporate magazine Colors and the new training school Benetton is founding at its Ponzano Veneto headquarters. Although last year’s results haven’t been reported yet, Benetton’s total 1994 revenues were estimated at roughly 3 trillion lire ($1.9 billion).

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