Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Do Shock Tactics Such as Benetton's Latest Campaign Still Work in 2011?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Do Shock Tactics Such as Benetton's Latest Campaign Still Work in 2011?

Article excerpt

The brand's 'Unhate' campaign, which depicts world leaders kissing, marks a return to the spirit of its advertising in the 90s, but some doubt that such images can have the same impact today.

YES - STEPHEN ROBERTSON DIRECTOR-GENERAL, BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM

The level of debate created by the latest Benetton campaign must be seen as some indication of success. There is a fine line between love and hate, and that includes customer responses to advertising, but it marks a brave return toward the company's earlier, similarly confrontational, advertising.

This is a bold restatement of the Benetton brand. It doesn't tell me much about the clothing but it demonstrates the brand's rediscovered fearlessness and determination to stand out from the crowd.

Being banned by parts of the media should ensure it achieves cut-through and, critically, the brand recognition that most advertising is aiming for, but a woefully small percentage actually achieves. Judging how much of that awareness will be converted into sales is far trickier.

I have always regarded the adage of selling the 'sizzle not the sausage' as bad advice. Customers these days will quickly see through the sizzle if there is no substance to back it up, so I hope the Benetton retail offer is similarly bold.

MAYBE - IAN MCLERNON, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, PARFUMS CHRISTIAN DIOR, UK AND IRELAND

Benetton has a history of provoking debate and, in many cases, shocking people through its advertising. This, combined with good-quality products, innovative design and controlled distribution, helped the brand to be one of the successes of the fashion category in the 90s.

Ask most consumers aged 30-plus what imagery they associate Benetton with and I am confident that its ground-breaking ad campaigns of the 90s will be to be front of mind.

Since the millennium, the campaigns have still been capable of provoking debate, albeit that the brand in the UK has struggled to find relevance with consumers among hyper competition from Gap and other high-street and lifestyle brands.

I believe the 'Unhate' campaign will provoke debate within the marketing community. The million-dollar question, however, is how the consumer perceives Benetton. As a fashion and/or lifestyle brand? Also, what is its positioning in this competitive category and, ultimately, is this still relevant for consumers?

NO - ANDREW WARNER, SENIOR MARKETING DIRECTOR, EMEA, EXPEDIA

The problem here is that Benetton running 'shock' advertising is no longer shocking. …

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