Benetton stands by latest controversial campaign

PONZANO, ITALY: Benetton Group is stridently defending a recent ad

campaign even as it pays out dollars 50,000 and writes letters of regret

to quell the public outrage it sparked.

The campaign, which ran throughout 2000, featured pictures of death-row

inmates emblazoned with the phrase, "Sentenced to Death." Intended to

initiate debate about the death penalty, the ads instead inspired a

lawsuit filed by the State of Missouri. The suit alleged that the

company misled prison officials as to the intent of their visits in

order to gain access to four of the prisoners used in the ads.

Benetton is well known for its provocative ads, which have always gained

extensive added coverage on a limited ad budget. Past campaigns have

included models kissing while dressed as a priest and a nun, dying AIDS

patients and war victims.

Though its traditional PR-seeking tactics looked as though they may have

backfired, the company has salvaged its reputation by agreeing to the

settlement terms while sticking to its own agenda.

As part of the settlement, Benetton will pay dollars 50,000 to The

Missouri Crime Victims Compensation fund and has committed to outreach

measures, including writing letters of regret to the families of the

Missouri prisoners' victims. Nonetheless, Benetton made it clear even as

the settlement was made public last week that it stood by the ad


A statement released by the company stated in part: "Benetton Group ...

does not intend to go back on the campaign which it created, financed

and fully supported. The aim of the campaign was to contribute to the

debate about the death penalty, which continues throughout the world,

including the USA."

Frederico Sartor, chief of Benetton's press office in Ponzano, Italy,

said, "We did not and will not apologize for the death-row campaign." He

also denied that Oliviero Toscani, the photographer and creative

director of the campaign who was reportedly fired following the

controversy, was dismissed as a result of the ads.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in