Benetton’s new ad campaign……not so funny after all

We had no intention of commenting on this crass and crazy “Unhate” campaign, but after today’s defense in the Economic Times something needs to be said in protest. Freedom of expression is not in dispute here, nor is the fundamental attempt to make enemies love each other, if the naiveté of this situation can be accepted. What is being questioned is the particular style of expression, which on almost all levels violates sensibilities and social protocols and ends up with the brand raising a maelström to no purpose. So here are the key issues:

Brand communication ideas do not get creative legitimacy when they break with socially acceptable value systems largely because their wider resonance depends on broad based acceptability. Anything else is self indulgence.

Communicating social change issues through visual or verbal shock does not guarantee long-term embedding of key change parameters

Brands cannot and should not break the social contract with their stakeholders. This is not responsible behavior.

Stretching ideas to breaking point only ensures that communication snaps back to hurt rather than help branding. This is like taking such a big leap that you land in the deepest pit. And you may never be able to get out of it.

Advertising communication is first and foremost brand communication and should not go on to espouse so-called “artistic” pretensions.

For brands to embed socially relevant messages in their advertising communication is great, and they have done this in the past, but the best ideas have NEVER ever been crass.

72h for Peace on the other hand is worth endorsing in full.

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