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Oliviero Toscani    Looking Death in the Face 

 

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For all the previous controversy did Benetton finally show their real colours?
Jerome Mallett
It's quite remarkable the strength of people's reactions sometimes.  It is also quite remarkable how powerful money can be.  When Oliviero Toscani worked for Luciano Benetton and created his famous controversial advertising campaigns they were extremely powerful and had the desired affect of increasing Benetton's income immensely.  However, when one such campaign became too controversial Benetton backed down and Toscani mysteriously left.
bad habit
Toscani had spent over two years taking photos of prisoners on "Death Row" in American prisons and some of the photos were used in an advertising campaign launched in the year 2000.  The issue of the death penalty, like abortion, religion, sex and any number of other topics, is controversial.  It taps into the unresolved distress and emotional pain inside people and causes a disproportional emotional response.
big hand, small hand
Oliviero's intent was to raise the topic in the minds of many people in an unlikely setting and to provoke awareness and consideration of a controversial issue.  The campaign was, in some significant way, impartial to the polarised and emotionally charged views normally associated with such subjects.  It was in line with a series of other such campaigns highlighting such subjects as racism, HIV and war.
check mate
However, on this occasion, there was a dramatic adverse reaction by a number of people which ultimately led to significant protests. Many organisations including Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) organised petitions and demonstrations in opposition to Benetton and the advertising campaign.
black magic
Oliviero responded to some of the serious criticism by saying "I'm not a judge.  I'm not a social worker.  This campaign is not about victims.  It is about the death penalty.  The death penalty is unreligious.  The 10 Commandments say 'Thou shalt not kill.'  It is against the law." [see: God claims he doesn't exist]  And Luciano Benetton was equally oppositional to the claims that Benetton were somehow using the controversy for commercial profit.
here is someone new
There is no real question about whether humanity should open their eyes and 'look life in the face' and try to comprehend reality as accurately as possible.  But they do find it difficult and it's not surprising.  The universe is remarkably complex and humans are relatively simple.  What is really good about humans is that they continue to advance.  Their comprehension of their environment continues to expand.
magnetic fields
Controversial issues are typically suppressed in society and often become taboo subjects.  This is no way to understand reality.  It is understandable that some topics are too difficult to be dealt with at some specific time but that is no reason to shut them out for good.
white magic
Given that Benetton is a company concerned, amongst other things, with making money [see: money from thin air], it is reasonable to question whether or not the use of murderers in an advertising campaign is in fact abuse.
guns'n'bones
However, one cannot escape the fact that the subject is one that has to be considered.  It is entirely paradoxical to assess that killing someone is wrong and to conclude that therefore someone should be killed.  It doesn't take much scratching of the surface to realise that murderers have their reasons too.
cinsel organlar HIV positive
If, in this complicated commercial world, it is financially advantageous to question assumptions, to seek justice, to help the oppressed, to find solutions for those things that plague humanity then to take advantage of that seems a better choice than cowering away from controversy and playing safe by conscribing to the illusion of the materialistic, pleasure seeking, self deluding and frankly very damaging world of consumerism, advertising and social acceptability.
cinsel organlar genitals
There seems to be a divide between making money and doing good.  Hence the special legal status of charities.  But it is self evident that any real progress for humanity must be commercially viable.   It is no good if doing good things for humanity leads to pain, destruction, and their ultimate demise.  By definition humans describe that as bad.
duck oil
Humanity must change it's perception of commerce and realise that the objective is not to make money any way you can but rather to make beneficial things make money.  Humans are clever enough to make this cultural shift and it can be seen to be happening already. [see the creative capitalism page]
pinoccio
Benetton should be applauded for the risks they are willing to take to use their position to raise serious and significant issues.  Fortunately the controversial advertising campaigns seem to have benefited them hugely.  During the 18 years of the association of Benetton and Toscani the company's profits increased dramatically.
cinsel organlar safety first
But there was a sudden downturn following the "We, on Death Row" campaign and it led to the resignation of Toscani three months later in April 2000.  Benetton made no effort to convince him to change his mind and officially both parties say that his leaving was not related to the controversy.
was it CJD ?
Was this a case of "Benetton showing their real colours"?  Or was it a pragmatic change of emphasis given that one very brave approach had run it's course.  What I know of Benetton I would approve of their philosophy and their humanitarian concerns.  They are probably one of the good companies on planet earth.
soldiers clothes
Regardless of that – their controversial campaigns were without doubt innovative and thought provoking.  Keep up the good work Benetton.

all pictures copyright © Benetton

You can visit the Benetton web site by clicking the logo below:

United Colors of Benetton

There is a very interesting Thesis by Natalia Kubacka on the advertising campaigns by Oliviero Toscani for Benetton called:
"THERE ARE NO SHOCKING PICTURES, ONLY SHOCKING REALITY". – OLIVIERO TOSCANI
The power and role of Benetton's shockvertising.

at: https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/48098/Kubacka_Natalia.pdf
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