Benetton risks fresh outrage

A Benetton advertisement, rejected by poster contractors as “obscene”, has appeared in London’s weekly listings magazine Time Out, and prompted a complaint on the day it went on sale.

Advertising industry watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority is to investigate the ad featuring a black horse mounting a white horse, which was criticised as too shocking for use on poster sites (MW July 12).

The double-page execution, which carries no slogan except the words “United Colors of Benetton” appeared in Time Out yesterday (Tuesday).

According to the fashion retailer, the ad is booked to appear in glossy magazines Vogue and Cosmopolitan in October.

An ASA spokesman says the ASA Council will investigate the complaint and judge if it causes serious or widespread offence.

He says the ASA will publish its adjudication in its monthly report in the normal way. If the ad had appeared on a poster site, much more drastic action might have been


“When it comes to Benetton advertising, a lot depends on the discretion of the editor. The editor of Time Out has decided it’s fine for its readership,” the spokesman adds.

Since the Eighties, Benetton has produced a string of controversial ads and claims its purpose is to promote tolerance, despite accusations that its advertising is exploitative and distasteful. The company says: “What is natural is never vulgar.”

v The ASA is expected to ban poster ads for Diamond Zest, an alcoholic lemon and cider drink from Matthew Clark Taunton, for breaking the Authority’s rules.

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