Even a cursory look at the news makes it painfully obvious that there’s no shortage of causes that need our awareness. And, while the fashion world might not be the most obvious place to look for agents of change, Benetton’s latest ad intends to move it in that direction.
The Daily Mail reports that, this week, the Italian brand has partnered with the United Nations on a special campaign for the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a 16-day initiative to promote women’s rights around the world. The image is a powerful one, taking the violent act of stoning — a form of execution still legal today in nations like Iran, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates — but, instead of rocks, orange flower petals (the official color of the day) rain down on the woman seated at center. Rather than punishment, it's about peace. As the campaign's creative director Erik Ravelo explained, "Here, we are trying to wrap all aspects of violence against women into one strong image, because violence against women is such a vast problem, and we needed people to 'get it' quickly."
This messaging is just the latest from Benetton's Unhate Foundation, created by the company in hopes of addressing issues such as racism, unemployment, hate, world hunger, and many more through fashion ads. But, while Benetton's long-time use of “shock advertising” in support of its progressive stance on issues like AIDS and poverty may be compelling in raising awareness, taking action is more important.
The company and the U.N. are inviting everyone to contribute women’s-rights-oriented news stories online, the stories readers feel should be given more ink and air time, and the 10 best submissions will be transformed into campaigns in 2015. As Gianluca Pastore, the brand's director of global marketing, told The Daily Mail, "We are encouraging young people to give us their point of view, their story. This is a vehicle for social change, we want to be sure our campaign can have a real impact on society."