This article originally appeared in
September 26, 2001
Transvestite Among Stars Of New Benetton Campaign


    In its first major advertising initiative since the departure of
    long-time creative director Olivero Toscani, iconoclastic Italian
    clothing designer Benetton unveiled its international ad
    campaigndeveloped jointly with the United Nations that
    highlights the value of volunteers.

    While many marketers are considering taking a more
    cautious approach in their advertising post the terrorist
    attacks in the U.S., Benetton it taking its traditional
    unconventional approach.

The campaign highlights an unlikely series of real volunteers
in a style reminiscent of the company's previous efforts only in
that they are dominated by a single image with the bright green
Benetton logo off to one side. In this series, the pale blue UN
Volunteer logo appears adjacent to the Benetton logo.

Among those featured in the campaign's gritty color photos are
a transvestite who distributes condoms to prostitutes, a former
chain gang member working on a campaign against violence
and a young tap dancer who entertains the residents of an old
peoples' home.

In a statement, company President-Founder Luciano Benetton said the ads would promote volunteerism
and held reduce prejudice.

    "Our partnership with the United Nations [should show] that
    there are many ways to be a volunteer," Mr. Benetton said.

    The campaign, which will launch in early October, will be
    distributed in some 50 countries, mostly in Europe and the
    Americas. Benetton said it carries a price tag of around $11

    In addition to representing a rare partnership between a
    trendy fashion house and a powerful multilateral organization,
    the campaign is significant because it represents the first
major advertising campaign Benetton produced since Mr. Toscani stepped down 15 months ago in the
wake of the daring and controversial "Death Row" campaign.

Mr. Toscani had been the company's creative director since 1982.

The new campaign was produced by Fabrica, Benetton's
in-house "creative laboratory" that Mr. Toscani helped found.

The new campaign is the latest in a series of ongoing changes
for Benetton. Since Mr. Toscani left the company in May 2000,
the company has changed chief executives, and in August it
was a major partner in a Pirelli-led consortium that dramatically
took control of telephone giant Telecom Italia. Earlier this month,
Benetton announced it would reduce its total number of outlets worldwide by consolidating some into
around 20 super-sized mega-stores.
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