Campaign to feature a team of citizens of the world: nine trend-setters, nine different colors that speak of the identity and excellence of a brand that looks to the future
THE CAMPAIGN, DEVELOPED UNDER THE CREATIVE DIRECTION OF FABRICA, WILL ROLL OUT SHORTLY IN THE PRESS, ON BILLBOARDS, IN SALES OUTLETS AND ONLINE
Campaign Photographed by Giulio Rustichelli/FABRICA
UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON features a group of unique models for its SPRING 2013 CAMPAIGN. Over three days of photo shoot at the Pin Up Studio in Paris, “nine ambassadors for life and for style, distinguished by their multiculturalism, cosmopolitan spirit and social commitment, shared their interpretation of colour”; a chromatic reflection of the talent and character which led them into the global limelight. On the heels of more controversial ad campaigns in the past, the new spring-summer 2013 pitch signals a venture into celebrity endorsements for the brand and puts forward a roster of idiosyncratic models that all boast, as one Benetton executive put it, “incredible personal stories.”
This campaign breaks new ground for the BENETTON GROUP brand. Starting this season and using an ever changing set of ambassadors, it rolls out a totally new format based – in the words of CHAIRMAN ALESSANDRO BENETTON – on “the iconic value of color – a founding value for United Colors of Benetton and once again at the centre of our aesthetics and communications – to give a powerful assertion of the identity and excellence of this brand, which holds diversity as a value, and the unity of differences as a wealth to be treasured.”
The global campaign features nine spokesmodels with videos that spotlight the biographical quirks that might have hindered them—but actually made them famous. “The route they followed in order to get [to fashion success] was a very unusual route, a different route,” BENETTON, the Harvard-educated chairman who last April took the reins from his cofounder father, LUCIANO, told reporters in Paris at the launch of the campaign. “It is perhaps one of the most ‘Benetton’ campaigns, productwise, that we have ever done.”
Shot by young Italian photographer GIULIO RUSTICHELLI, the campaign features Sudanese model and refugee advocate ALEK WEK (who is actively committed to drawing international attention to the humanitarian disaster in her homeland of Sudan), Brazilian transgender model LEA T (trans-sexual Brazilian model, overcoming prejudice) and the Tunisian HANAA BEN ABDESSLEM (a rare Arab, Muslim face in the modeling industry who, with her professionalism and dedication, has become an example to many other Arab women with the same dream) are standout choices, as is German model MARIO GALLA. GALLA (who made a splash at BERLIN FASHION WEEK in 2010, when he walked for designer MICHAEL MICHALSKY in shorts, revealing his prosthetic leg.
The campaign also places the spotlight on a pair of faces with fashion industry and Hollywood lineage: New York–born ELETTRA WIEDEMANN, the daughter of ISABELLA ROSSELLINI and granddaughter of INGRID BERGMAN, and KIERA CHAPLIN, granddaughter of CHARLIE CHAPLIN and great-granddaughter of playwright EUGENE O’NEILL. Benetton plays up both of the dynastic stars’ philanthropy: Wiedemann, who holds a master’s in biomedicine from the LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, is a prize-winning environmental activist; Chaplin, an actress and model, is active with UNESCO and THE AMY WINEHOUSE FOUNDATION.
East London–born model DUDLEY O‘SHAUGHNESSY, British actor and model, and former national welterweight champion, whose parents hail from England and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, turned heads as Rihanna’s love interest in her controversial video for “We Found Love.” The Milan-based Uruguayan chef MATÍAS PERDOMO, who at 32 holds one Michelin star, is a thickly bearded outsider who has brought an original intercontinental mix to his restaurant in Milan, combining tradition and innovation. And pink-clad CHARLOTTE FREE brings her pink-haired mischief and five-foot-seven frame to bear on the campaign.
This symbolic use of color has inspired everything from the vibrant new windows of the UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON stores, to the web. The chromatic experience is, in fact, key to a new soon-to-be launched website, a dynamic platform that will aggregate user-generated feeds with color-hashtags – pictures, posts, phrases, tweets – from Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and the mobile network thus building an online community dedicated to colors.
The web project will be accompanied and integrated with an app, which will become a site content generator in its own right. There will also be an editorial space with an international outlook. A collection of magazine-style news, developed around a single theme: color.
Similarly, quotations, epigrams, expressions and proverbs about color will animate the colourful windows of the United Colors of Benetton stores in streets and squares around the world. You might find anything, from learned phrases, to the favourite color of anyone who wishes to express a thought, an idea or a motto about the colors closest to their heart.
The playful campaign with this photogenic yet accomplished motley cast is seen by some in the industry as a clear pitch to renew relations with younger consumers, a market key to Benetton’s success during its heyday, when OLIVIERO TOSCANI was churning out shocking, and ultimately iconic, campaigns for the brand in the 1980s and 1990s that included a nun kissing a priest, death-row inmates, and AIDS patients. Company executives, however, insisted at the press conference in Paris that “the company isn’t seeking provocation for its own sake.”
“If you want to be shocked on the Web, you don’t need Benetton!” GIANLUCA PASTORE, Benetton’s global communications chief, quipped to The Daily Beast.
The knitwear brand has been struggling in recent years on many fronts, including having to deal with high cotton prices and poor consumer demand in crisis-hit Euro-zone Southern Europe, which is historically a core market for the 48-year-old family company. Industry insiders sees the move to promote Alessandro Benetton and delist the stock (thus taking the company private) after 25 years on the Milan exchange—as well as this campaign—as part of a bid to revive the company’s flagging fortunes.
But Benetton fiercely distinguishes the company’s actions (past and present), as well as highlighting the differences between the brand’s product campaigns—which feature actual Benetton products—and the “institutional” campaigns that let plays on brand values. As he told reporters at the launch, they will have to “[stay tuned] to find out how provocative, or innovative, or how strange we are in our message.”
The images from the campaign will become a LIMITED EDITION T-SHIRT that will be sold across the world, online at shop.benetton.com and in flagship United Colors of Benetton stores. All proceeds raised from the sale of the T-shirts will be donated in support of the activities of the UNHATE FOUNDATION. http://www.benetton.com/us/, http://www.facebook.com/Benetton, https://twitter.com/Benetton, http://www.youtube.com/benetton,