Benetton and Shock Advertising: Does it work?

Benetton ads and shock advertising

This last week in my consumer behavior course, we evaluated Benetton’s shock advertisements and discussed whether or not they acted favorably or disfavorably toward the brand. We also analyzed if the ads were in fact considered artwork as this was the creative director’s argument at the time. After our in-class discussion, we each interviewed four of our friends and asked them the following questions:

1. Are you familiar with Benetton?

2. If yes, what do you know about the brand?

3. If yes, how do you feel about the brand?

4. [Show a few of the print ads from our case study, observe your friend’s reaction.]

5. What do these ads say to you? [the point of your question is to find out what message the ads are conveying/communicating – about the cause, about the brand].

All of the friends I interviewed were under the age of 25, with two of them being female and two of them being male. Not one of my interviewees had heard of the Benetton brand. After they had told me they weren’t familiar with the brand, I showed them a few of their most famous (or dare I say infamous) advertisements from the 80’s to today. The overwhelming response I got from my friends was that they did not know what product or service the brand was offering. They were able to associate some ads with social justice causes, such as homosexual equality, homosexual parenting and adoption, racial equality, racial parenting and adoption, among a few others. The one ad that caused the most confusion was the ad of the newly born baby still with the umbilical cord attached. Some of my friends thought it was an anti-abortion ad while others had no idea of what to think of the ad. From the ads that illustrated homosexual and racial equality, they said that they were easily identifiable social justice ads as they used people, their race, and their culture  to convey the message of equality. However, they said they still were unclear of what it exactly Benetton offered to the public.

My friends’ responses align with my own thoughts and feelings. While some of Benetton’s ads raised awareness of social justice issues and were easily identifiable, other were not; in addition, none of the ads clearly explained what kind of company Benetton was and what they offered. While consumers do not always want to be blatantly told what an ad represents, there has to be some level of consumer understanding; otherwise, the ad defeats its purpose at raising positive feelings about the brand and its products or services. When I asked my friends if they thought the ads were artwork, the majority said they believed the ads were great photography but not necessarily artwork. Personally, I think Benetton has the right idea of telling consumers it believes in certain social justice issues as they explain what side they are on; however, they do not explain well-enough to the consumer what it is they offer and how that is related to the ad.

How do you feel about Benetton’s ads? Do you believe they were effective or ineffective in their techniques? Comment below and tune-in next week for another discussion in consumer behavior!

*The image above is not intended to to inflict on any copyright infringements of Benetton or its advertisements.


Food and Drink Superbrands

Red Bull Stadium

In a BBC video production titled The Secrets of Superbrands, one British host examines large food and beverage companies that he describes as glo-local, or so global that they have become local brands. These superbrands include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Red Bull. Throughout the video, the host meets with different branding and marketing experts to help better explain key concepts of why and how these brands became the superbrands that they are today.

One thing from the video that really stood out to me was research has proven that certain brands are seen as people in the minds of human beings. Brands have taken on such personalities and have become such an integral part of the lives of many people that people now recognize them as family or friends in the frontal cortex of their brains. Interestingly, this personification of brands was not developed today; it has been around for centuries, as mentioned by Coca-Cola in the video.

An idea from this video that I want to apply to branding assignments and projects in the future is the focus on serving individual communities. Whether you’re McDonald’s or a mom and pop shop, it is important that the products and services you provide your customers with align with your customer’s values. A great example of this was described in the video as McDonald’s having a different menu in every country.

Lastly, a question about the power of superbrands that is still circling in my mind is where will the line exist between a brand as a brand and a brand as a person in the future. If consumers are associating brands with friends and family in today’s time, how will brands evolve in the future? Will there always be this marketer’s problem of making a brand more than a brand? Will hedonic values change our biological physiologies so much that we end up putting crap into our bodies but believing we are eating and drinking what is good for us? I believe every brand has a right to have a personality, but what if future generations will not be able to distinguish between a marketing message and a good or bad product?

What is your take on the evolution of brands as personalities? Do you believe brands are as familiar to us as people?Comment below and follow my blog next week for the latest discussion in marketing and consumer behavior!

The War on Drugs and Advertising

Children and the War on Drugs

In my Consumer Behavior lecture this past week, we watched old advertisements cautioning children and teenagers from trying or using drugs. While the scare tactic was an obvious theme, we noticed that some of the other advertising messages were very misleading or that they were trying to connect dots between things that were not directly related, such as the war on drugs and terrorism. Likewise, the use of certain drugs has changed drastically over the last 20 years, particularly marijuana. It is now legal to smoke marijuana in some states, and other states still allow the use of it for medical purposes, making it a nationally-known substance that helps alleviate pain or discomfort. In this post, I will describe advertising ideas that I would use to target teenagers and young adults in today’s time from trying drugs.

First came Mary Jane…

In the campaign combating the War on Drugs, I would attempt to inform (notice not scare) the consumer of how their body reacts when on drugs. The commercial can showcase synapses in the brain, and how they either slow down or over-accelerate from the substances being used. The “brain slideshow” could begin with substances like marijuana and transition into the more dangerous, life-threatening drugs. Likewise, I would show hard numbers explaining how many brain cells are dying or how many endorphins and other chemicals are being released compared to the natural and healthy amount next to the moving image of the brain transformation.

Since most young people today are concerned with health and fitness, we can explain how using drugs affects your body in unhealthy ways that may cause permanent damage not only to your insides but also to your outsides. While marijuana may not be a drug some people consider as harmful or dangerous, we can show how smoking it changes your chemical balance and thus affects your external actions, such as driving, cooking, or watching after children.

In addition, I noticed that the majority of the older ads targeted the individual being affected, but not the people surrounding the individual being affected. If we really wanted to “scare” people away from using drugs, we can show children or young brothers and sisters picking up and ingesting these substances, or we might show children living in poverty due to negligence of drug-abusing parents. These ads might get a better response as they feature “loved ones” instead of the individual being the most hurt or affected by drugs.

Do you have any ideas or creative messages for building a campaign against using drugs? If so, comment below and share your thoughts!

Tune-in next week for the latest discussion on consumer behavior and advertising.

Image: Kelly Short

What About Product Placement?

product placement in advertising

Product placement is a huge topic of debate in marketing and advertising. As many avid lovers of Sex and the City may remember, this hunk and his Absolut Vodka bottle took over an entire episode. In this week’s blog post, I will answer questions about product placement in digital advertising in reference to these articles: 1.) “How Much is This Shot Worth?” by Todd Wasserman and 2.) “Now in Blogs, Product Placement” by J. David Goodman. How do you feel about product placement? Check out the articles referenced above and read below to catch my take on product placement.

Has product placement influenced your purchase decision(s)? If so, do you remember the placement?

Product placement has influenced my purchase decisions and continues to do so. While many companies are bashed for using product placement, I find it an easy and for the most part likeable tool that marketers can use to display specific products or services to consumers. Once I started taking more advanced marketing and advertising classes, I began to notice product placement even more. Recently, I saw one of my favorite actresses wearing a beautiful pair of sunglasses that I wanted to buy. I searched for the sunglasses in the scene on Google and found cheap knock-offs similar to the product all over the Internet.

In what instances is product placement a service (a good)?

Product placement can include services such as Aflac insurance, as mentioned in the Wasserman article; however, it also includes physical products such as Absolut Vodka, as mentioned by Goodman in the New York Times article. It varies depending on the company and the media scene in which the product is placed.

Where does product placement not belong?

Personally, I can’t think of a reason not to include product placement in any type of venue or media as long as it is done so in such a way that pleases the consumer – i.e., not mentioning the direct brand but having it seen in the background, such as Reese’s Pieces in the film E.T. The biggest media area I see as a problem for product placement is blogging. As Goodman stated, all companies and bloggers are now required to state whether they promote “sponsored” or “unsponsored” posts. If the blogger is upfront about the sponsorship, I believe most people will accept it.

What is the future of product placement?

I see product placement becoming an ordinary part of a consumer’s life. Whether people like to admit it or not, they are inspired or motivated to buy certain things based off of who they have seen with the products or services or where they have seen the products and services displayed. While product placement may eventually become noise in the background that consumers will ignore, GM’s general director of marketing described it best: “One thing we do know for certain is that the right kind of integration does have a significant positive impact.” I believe consumers will agree as they will be more informed about the products and services they want to buy from product placement advertising.

Interested in learning more about marketing elements such as product placement? Follow my blog or add to the discussion in the comments below! *Note: Any images used in the blog were found publicly on Google and are not intended to infringe upon the rights of the brand(s) mentioned.

Nostalgic Ads – Do They Really Work?

In this week’s blog post, I will be describing four brands and their effectiveness at evoking nostalgia in their advertisements. In addition, I will recreate the Budweiser advertisement to intensify the feeling of nostalgia for my generation. *Note: All of these images were found publicly on Google and are not intended to infringe upon the rights of any brand represented.


McDonald's Nostalgia Advertising

I believe this ad does a great job at evoking nostalgia, particularly for an older generation target market. The ad showcases a past year, “1955,” and it also highlights the original price of a McDonald’s burger (15 cents!) in 1955. Likewise, the ad includes old architecture of the golden arches hanging over a drive-in style restaurant.

The Green Giant    

The Green Giant's Nostalgia AdvertisingAnother brand that chose to market one of its advertisements with a nostalgia theme is the Green Giant. While many consumers may know the Green Giant’s brand as synonymous with green beans, I’m willing to bet most consumers do not know the history of the brand. This ad captures the integrity of the brand by letting consumers know it’s been around for a long time and has not changed its core value of providing nutritional vegetables that help you grow big and strong. Furthermore, it creates a feeling of nostalgia with older consumers who have known the brand for many years.


Budweiser Nostalgia Advertisement

While McDonald’s and the Green Giant’s ads do an excellent job of taking the consumer way back to the brands’ roots, Budweiser’s ad focuses on a particular decade in America’s pastime: the 80’s! This ad centralizes on subtle cues that work together as a whole to re-create a fun and lively time from the brand’s history. The bright colors, cool shades, and large earrings tell a story from Generation X’s memory. Likewise, the old, plastic cup design relates to concerts, parties, and live events that occurred during the decade. While this ad may not resonate so well with millennials and younger generations, it certainly hits home with its target audience, Generation X.

In order to make this ad nostalgic to my generation (millennials), I would redesign the image to mirror a persona from my life’s experiences. An example could be accessorizing the model with college memorabilia or fashion from my 20’s and changing the plastic cup to a can or beer bottle. The change in the actual product would be relevant to me as most social gatherings in my 20’s involve cans or bottles of beer.

CoppertoneCoppertone Nostalgia Advertisement

When I started thinking of nostalgic advertisements, the first brand to pop in my mind was Coppertone. The brand’s advertisement on the right has remained tantamount with its name – so much so that the image is often replicated in the media and in families’ lives as having a “Coppertone butt.” I am sure that at the time this ad creative was originally presented to the marketplace, it was a huge success. The real success here, however, is that a single ad campaign became the defining image of a brand name and is parallel to sunscreen products and beach-time adventures everywhere.