Sunday, 8 October 2006

ADVERTISING FOR SALE

Dolce & Gabbana have been caught with their pants down...


At least, their latest posters and press ads have caused some quizzical eyebrow-raising --- not surprisingly, perhaps, when you consider the blatantly gay/homoerotic focus of their menswear advertising…



…and the bizarre lesbian/dominatrix persona accorded to the sickly-looking women in their ads…



Presumably, the market research employed by D&G’s advertising agents justifies these decadent campaigns, but one wonders whether they truly result in increased sales of jumpers, jeans, boots and bags or even, come to that, designer underwear.

In fact, does D& G advertising really sell anything --- other than the advertising?

I view it rather in the same way as ads for Absolut vodka: I adore their brilliant use of startling and imaginative imagery...


...and I even have bookmarked the absolutads.com site which currently displays digital images of a staggering 1,193 rarely-less-than-brilliant pictorial conceits...


...and yet - I never drink vodka!

On the other hand - as Benetton has triumphantly proved - you don't even really need to show your product at all simply in order to increase brand awareness --- if only because, in the case of Benetton, the shock value of their advertisements have kept the brand name pretty much consistently in the news for more than a decade...






However, I still wonder how many actual sales have been initiated by those images of electric chairs, war graves and copulating horses...

5 comments:

Scrooge said...

Yes, I think names like Benetton have increased their brand awareness but they remain, for me, the lowest of the low in advertising standards. I am revolted by their considered exploitation of HIV/racial imagery etc which highlights the fact that they, as a company, don't give a monkeys about these issues. They are merely using them to create an impression within the minds of the public in the belief that they are somehow 'chic' or 'with-it' topics. That shows a soulessness and lack of moral vanlues I find difficult to get my head round.

Brian Sibley said...

Today it would be hard to find any advertising that is not - on some level - cynical and exploitative...

Some might say that Benetton have been less covert than those who, by avoiding too much controversy, have seemed more 'moral' but have been, for example, shamelessly using 'beautiful', 'happy', 'perfect' people to sell all kinds of products - from beer and cigarettes to breakfast cereals and soap powders - to people who are not beautiful, happy or perfect but who really want to identify with the beautiful, happy perfect people in the ads...

With so much talk about the 'art' of advertising (and not to deny it's many stunning flashes of brilliance and the skill of many of its practitioners) it is, perhaps, important to recall George Orwell's definition of the trade: "Advertising is the rattling of a stick in a swill bucket!"

Scrooge said...

I can take any amount of the usual rubbish - as you say, occasionally you may reveal true art and it can certainly alter public perceptions gradually ,without us even knowing.This is certainly the case with the examples of gay imagery you have used above (drawn, no doubt, from your seemingly infinate personal library !). I do take exception, though, to Benetton's use of war graves (or any of its other subjects for that matter). I think its too much. It seems like some shoddy attempt to upgrade their product whilst at the same time dragging down the subject matter to the level of a mere merchandising tool and thereby immunising us from any emotion related to it.

Brian Sibley said...

I agree...

A lot of punters agree: more than 800 people wrote to the ASA complaining about the poster showing a blood-stained T-shirt with a bullet hole and another with a blood-smeared, new-born baby...

Interestingly, even Benetton seem to agree!

The following extract is from an article by Harriet Ryan published in 'Court TV News' in 1999 which critiques Benetton's use of Death Row prisoners on their then current posters:

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...Benetton USA Executive Vice President Carlo Tunioli, admitted that to the company, the campaign has little to do with the morality of capital punishment. It's all about marketing, he explained.

"There's no correlation between these guys" he said, gesturing to five-feet-high portraits of David Leroy Skaggs (two counts of first-degree murder) and Bobby Lee Harris (first-degree murder) "and our sweaters. In terms of an advertising strategy, what we are really doing is building brand awareness."

Bottom line: Benetton hopes its prime U.S. market — youngsters 15 to 24 — sees images that offend the sensibilities of their parents and think, I'm going to get me some of that.

"Our brand is social, political issues, not products," said Tunioli. He pointed to successes in the past, and indeed Benetton has waged ad campaigns featuring edgy takes on such subjects for a decade. But these past campaigns just prove that Benetton has no real concern about social issues, and is just hawking hip outrage. It's not like Benetton phased out its ad campaign against war, racism, and AIDS because it or the world had eradicated those problems. Nope, they just ceased being cool to teen-agers with disposable income.

As Tunioli said, "We create controversy and we live on controversy."

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The full article can be accessed here.

David Weeks said...

No publicity is bad publicity.
If your sole aim is bring your brand name into public awareness then it matters not whether it is in good taste or not.
'Benneton' are absolute masters in the field. You have a clothing industry that has way too many brand names and way too many choices.
So, to stand out amongst them all is the measure of success.
Yes, I think much of the advertising stinks ~ but hey, what do I know, it works and the world is aware of this particular brand name.
I guess it's even more successful than that coy little company 'FCUK' with its daring little logo ~ Ooooo I'm so excited and shocked by its cutting edge daring do.
I think not.
Where will it end?