HULLO! (to be read in Hugh Laurie’s voice when he plays Lieutenant George)

It’s been a little while. Which, on one level is a shame, but on another, perhaps reflects something else but my bottomless pit of enthusiasm for university when the end of semester approaches.

Here are a few quotes from my Ethics lecture that I found interesting. They are in relation to Olivero Toscani’s advertising work for Italian clothing brand, United Colours of Benetton.

Controversy arose when Benetton released an advertising campaign that consisted of quite shocking images stamped with the Benetton logo.

McKenzie Wark’s criticism of the campaigns negative reception…

“Of course, Benetton are seeking to gain commercial advantages from the display of these images of war and murder and death. They are no different from a newspaper or the TV news in this respect…In good bourgeois fashion, intellectuals make rules about what is proper cultural behaviour – we can have the spectacle of death in our newspapers and in our art galleries, but not in advertising. Like the man who insists his wife be faithful, but who frequents the bordello twice a week, intellectuals are not terribly consistent when setting moral parameters for the image.”

and Toscani’s personal view on the matter…

“Advertizing is the richest and most powerful form of communication in the world. [Even so] we need to have images that will make people think and discuss. Ad agencies…are far too comfortable. When the client is happy, they stop trying. They don’t want to know what’s going on in the world. They create a false reality and want people to believe in it. We show reality and we’re criticized for it. Our advertising is a Rorschach test of what you bring to the image. You can see a news photo of the fighting in Sarejevo and it’s in context; it conforms to your expectations. Shocking violence in the News is normal. But when you take the same photo out of the News and put a Benetton logo on it, people pause and reflect on their position on the problem. When they can’t come to terms with it, they get mad at us. When journalists focus on strange and serious topics, nobody criticizes them for trying to sell their stories to the media. Yet, when an advertisement touches on a real problem, everyone is immediately up in arms and protests that it’s in bad taste. It seems that an advertisement which misleads the consumer with deception and lies is considered more correct.”

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