Benetton’s advertising campaigns have always been a thing of captivating beauty, and serious thought. Their drawing board is as far from the pouting model, with a mysterious lack of pores, one can get. Instead the fashion company has focused on using their clothes to start much-needed conversations. Through the medium of print, Benetton has tackled social issues such as climate change and international human rights abuses. They famously addressed the AIDs epidemic in a series of photos with people displaying tattoos saying “HIV Positive”, slamming the discrimination victims faced the world over. Another image that dominated was of a man dying of the disease. Some advertisements have been slammed for pushing the envelope too far – for instance the above image of a priest and nun kissing offended religious groups. One ad featured an enfant still attached to its umbilical cord and was heavily condemned for its graphic nature.
Now Benetton is taking to video to talk about violence against women the world over in an advertisement that cannot help but move the viewer. In partnership with the United Nations and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Benetton show a woman sitting down surrounded by aggressive men. The scene is meant to evoke the practice of stoning, a form of execution still practiced in countries such as Iran and Pakistan. Earlier this year a pregnant woman was stoned and killed by her won family outside a courthouse in Pakistan. She married a man of her own choosing, angering her male relatives.
However, this woman in Benetton’s ad isn’t pelted with rocks and sharp objects. The men throw handfuls of orange petals. Flowers rain peacefully down on her. Bright colours bloom in the air and she looks straight into the camera, calling on the world to take a stand and to strive for peace. However Benetton aren’t just raising awareness. “This is a vehicle for social change, we want to be sure our campaign can have a real impact on society,” Gianluca Pastore, the brand’s director of global marketing, explained to The Daily Mail. The brand wants viewers to take action, calling on people to contribute news stories about women’s rights online. The best ten will become the basis of visual campaigns next year.
The UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is a 16 day-long initiative to promote the rights of women around the world. For more information see unhatenews.com and womensaid.ie.
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun