CAMPAIGNS: PUBLICITY; Media flocks to Benetton launch

Campaign: Opening of new Oxford Circus store Client: Benetton PR team: Modus Publicity Timescale: June 1996 Budget: Approx pounds 30,000

Campaign: Opening of new Oxford Circus store

Client: Benetton

PR team: Modus Publicity

Timescale: June 1996

Budget: Approx pounds 30,000

Benetton’s new Oxford Circus megastore signals a new marketing concept

for the media conscious retailer. The new outlet is the group’s biggest

shop in the world, and combines normal retailing with artistic pursuits.

There is exhibition space in the store and windows, with further space

for bands and DJs to perform.


To gain press coverage nationally and in London for the launch, to

promote sales, as well as generating international coverage to help

maintain Benetton’s image in the 119 countries where it has shops.


The media were promised something exciting and unusual, but details were

kept under wraps. They got two dozen live sheep dyed green, blue, and

pink, which arrived with their stewards in a pink Cadillac and several

London taxis, and were led to matching picket-fenced areas carpeted with

synthetic turf inside the store.

Company president Luciano Benetton arrived in the middle of the event to

lead the flock of journalists upstairs for an informal press briefing.

Benetton praised sheep as very efficient suppliers, justifying the stunt

by the fact that Benetton is the world’s largest consumer of wool.


Around 150 press attended the launch, which brought Oxford Circus to a

standstill. Coverage of the event was led in the national press by the

broadsheets, typified by the Guardian, which reported the launch along

with Luciano Benetton’s account of the group’s business position,

slightly ahead of its half-year results. Regional papers also used the

story and there was some international coverage.

TV crews from CNN, Sky, and EBN also attended, as did five national

press photographers. Following the launch, Luciano Benetton was profiled

in the Guardian, the Independent Magazine and the Independent on Sunday,

the Observer, Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the

Sunday Telegraph.


‘If you’ re Benetton, there’ s a pressure to do something different,’

says Seema Merchant, account director at Modus.

The press was certainly expecting entertainment, and Modus delivered. ‘I

enjoyed it,’ says Mark Roberts, retail and marketing correspondent at

the Economist. ‘Knowing to expect something unusual probably did

influence my going.’ The Economist, as it happens, did not cover the


However coverage in the national broadsheets must have caught the eye of

a significant proportion of Benetton’s London customers. Its individual

marketing style clearly works for a broad consumer base, and while this

stunt failed to live up to the brashness of its ‘cause-related’

advertising, at the very least it entertained.

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