Benetton looks to move beyond ‘shock tactics’ with campaign championing female empowerment

Benetton’s launch of a new campaign and initiative championing the emancipation and empowerment of women globally marks a “maturing” of its brand communications beyond shock tactics, according to marketing chief John Mollanger.

United Colors of Benetton has historically called out global social issues in its advertising, including the recent ‘Unhate’ campaign featuring world leaders kissing each other to show that love is not that far from hate.

At a press conference in Treviso, Italy today (22 October), chief product and marketing officer Mollanger said: “I’m not sure that it’s part of our DNA to be shocking.”

He added that certain campaigns, went “further than others” at those moments in time. Mollanger said: “Rather than be shocking what we would like to be today is attitudinal, emotional and interesting. At times that may translate into creative that’s more shocking than others but we have matured.”

Benetton’s new global campaign shows five female models of varied backgrounds and ages each carrying a message of emancipation and empowerment. It goes live today via traditional and digital channels.

The underlying aim is to inspire women around the world by telling other women’s stories.

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The Italian clothing brand also announced details of the ‘Benetton Women Empowerment Programme’, a long-term initiative that supports projects and concrete actions aimed at targeting important key priorities for women, following the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations for 2030.

These include sustainable living, non discrimination and equal opportunities, access to quality education and healthcare and an end to all forms of violence against women.

When asked if the new activity is a feminist campaign Mollanger said yes because the cause fights for women but “hopefully not in an abrasive sense of the term”.

He also added that it does not mean the brand doesn’t care about the male gender or humanity. It does, however, mark a step change for the brand in terms of focusing on issues it can have an actual affect on.

Molanger said: “Some of the causes we have fought for have improved, some not, so we have decided to move from pointing the finger to actively contributing and improving.”

The first initiative is dubbed the sustainable livelihood project, a five-year, €2 million investment aimed at giving a sustainable livelihood to women in the ready-made garments sector.

The campaign also includes a new clothing collection, entitled ‘A Collection of Us’, which will be released in four stages over the next six months, each with a different theme including heritage, technique, colour and performance. The first is inspired by Benetton celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and includes clothes from the archives that go into stores today.

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