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Does Benetton’s Unemployee campaign lack Toscani’s shock tactics?
Claire | September 26, 2012
The global recession has changed the way our youth consume. Digital has also played its part. As more and more young people find themselves out of work, Benetton have made a smart move in targeting their latest marketing drive at a ‘forgotten’ demographic: young people without money to spend. And according to their new marketing campaign, that’s a market of 180 million young people – people who have been written off by society, or by themselves.
“Useleless, lazy anarchists.”. That’s the stereotype United Colours of Benetton are targeting. Their new ‘Unemployee of the Year’ campaign features young people dressed for work alongside a description of the profession they could have if they could find a job. As well as pushing against social stigma in older generations, Benetton say they want to inspire young people to look for new opportunities and think beyond the limits of traditional employment. And through a companion scheme of grants and funding for young people, they may be about to change lives.
The new ‘Unemployee of the Year’ campaign has been set up by the UNHATE Foundation, a subsidiary of the Benetton Group. With the advertising campaign comes a rather attractive contest: €5000 grants for 18-30-year-old unemployed people who have a desire to fuel social change in their own community. Projects that are funded must be aligned with UNHATE’s own ethics; in other words, they must be inclusive and welcoming to all.
The Benetton Group is based in Treviso, a relatively well-off Italian town just stone’s throw from the tourist traps of Venice. The company is a notable F1 sponsor, and supports its own local teams, including Benetton Rugby. Although the Benetton family’s considerable wealth is apparent in their own community, the company does not shy away from controversy. The image of a man dying from AIDS was used in a 1991 campaign for ‘United Colors’ alongside nudity, racially diverse images and religious figures in passionate poses.
A spokesperson for Benetton said the company wishes to demonstrate that “having a job is not everything”. That’s a bold statement for a company with a premium clothing line at the heart of his business. Still, it’s a far cry from the days when Oliviero Toscani took photographs of inmates for ‘We On Death Row’, his final campaign for the company, in which he pushed the envelope further than its major US stockists could handle.
Chief Executive Alessandro Benetton told the Huffington Post that his aim is to encourage debate, even if ‘Unemployee of the Year’ isn’t quite the head-turner that Oliviero Toscani’s photography was 21 years ago. Unemployed people between the ages of 18 and 30 can get involved with UNHATE at http://unhate.benetton.com. The contest for funding closes on 14th October.
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