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

Core Societal Values and Germany: How do CSV scores affect lifestyles?

CSV & Germany

In this blog post, I will be looking at Germany’s core societal values and the scores associated with each. These values, commonly referred to by marketers as CSV, “represent a commonly agreed upon consensus about the most preferable ways of living within a society” (Gray 2015). According to the Hofstede Centre, Germany’s core societal values include: Power Distance (35), Individualism (67), Masculinity (66), Uncertainty Avoidance (65), Long Term Orientation (83), and Indulgence (40). For more detailed descriptions of what each core societal value means and how each score is interpreted, please visit the Hofstede Centre here.

How might these scores affect my lifestyle if I were to move from the United States to Germany?

From looking at Germany’s CSV scores, I can see that Germany is similar to the United States in that it is a very individualistic society. Germans tend to have small families that focus on building self-actualization like many Americans, including myself and my family. In addition, Germany’s highest CSV score is in Long Term Orientation, which resonates especially well with me as I live my life following long term orientation. However, the United States as a whole has a super low long term orientation score of only 26! Masculinity is still large in both the United States and Germany, which simply means that both countries are driven by competition, achievement, and success; all of which align well with me. The biggest differences between the United States and Germany in CSV scores include indulgence and uncertainty avoidance. While the United States runs higher in indulgence and lower in uncertainty avoidance, Germany is opposite. I do not think this would make any future acculturation process difficult for me, as I tend to be more like the Germans in both of these areas.

Overall, I was surprised to learn that Germany’s core societal values align better with my personal values than the United States. Although I don’t plan on moving to a foreign country any time soon, I will keep Germany in the back of my mind as a potential option.

To learn more about core societal values, visit the Hofstede Centre here. To stay up-to-date on the latest trends in marketing, follow my blog and tune-in next week!

Image: Bert Kaufmann

Consumer Behavior and Groups

Informal and Formal Groups

In this week’s post, I will be reflecting on the various groups I belong to, categorizing each group as either formal or informal. In addition, I will be highlighting the significance of each group and how each contributes towards my overall purchase decisions keeping this criteria in mind:

Make a list of all the formal and informal groups that you belong to. Use the ATO model to determine which is the best fit for you to purchase (at least hypothetically). Which ones are most important to you? Reflect on why you believe this is. How long have you belonged to these groups? If they are formal groups, what was the process of joining?

Formal Group:

1.) American Business Women’s Association (ABWA)

Informal Groups:

1.) Friends

2.) Family

3.) Classmates

4.) Coworkers

As shown from the lists above, I am currently more involved in informal groups than I am in formal groups. In my last semester of college, I want to focus on my informal groups comprised of friends, family, and intellectuals in order to build a strong network of people to guide me in my future endeavors after I graduate. I usually turn to my friends and family for personal purchase decisions, such as renting a new apartment or adopting a new pet. I will ask my classmates for advice on more school-based purchase decisions, such as buying a new textbook or scheduling an elective class. I have been at my new job for nearly 6 months now, so I am just starting to branch out and ask different coworkers for different advice based on the project, task, or idea I need an opinion on.

Using the ATO Model, it is clear that informal groups have more persuasive qualities on my purchase decisions than formal groups. While I enjoy the opinions of club members in ABWA, the opinions of my closest friends, coworkers, and class mates have more effect on my overall purchases. These informal groups are more important to me as I have longer ties between each emotionally, and I see these members much more frequently than I do members of ABWA. In addition, formal groups require more commitment to interact with club members as certain outings or events may require attendance versus a member voluntarily choosing or not choosing to attend. The formal process to join the ABWA chapter at ASU is very simple; members must pay a yearly membership fee to the university and the national ABWA organization and attend meetings regularly in order to maintain a position.