Benetton Unhate Campaign
CNN en Español “Encuentros” conducted by Claudia Palacios interviews Claudia Havi Goffan, President & CEO of Target Latino on the Benetton Unhate Campaign. Target Latino’s main area of expertise is the generation of cross-cultural word of mouth via inbound marketing strategies.
Transcript of the CNN en Español interview on the Benetton Unhate Campaign:
Claudia Palacios (CP): To discuss the subject further, wee have Claudia Havi Goffan. She is President of Target Latino. Welcome, Claudia.
Claudia Havi Goffan (HG): Hello Claudia, Thank you so much for having me on your show.
CP: As a marketer, what is your opinion on this Benetton campaign?
HG: As a marketer and especially because Target Latino’s main area of expertise is the generation of “word-of-mouth”, I think this campaign is absolutely brilliant, It is all over the traditional media and the internet and everybody is commenting on Benetton’s campaign. Even if it lasts for a very short time and they have to offer their apologies to the Vatican and their apologies to Sarkozy – I don’t really believe they’ll have to offer their apologies to Sarkozy – or apologize to the White House and have to take it down, what they achieved was that they talked about them.
CP: Of course the campaign is successful because nobody is indifferent and everybody has an opinion on it but what impact would it have on a company’s interests, that in the end sells clothes? What happened when they launched the campaign with the priest and the nun kissing? Does that increase Benetton’s sales or not? Is there success in terms of revenues?
HG: It is a strategy… of shock. And what was not happening was people talking about Benetton and people buying Benetton. The majority of Benetton’s sales come from Europe. In the 90’s, Benetton was “the” brand worldwide, Latin America, United States, etc. Little by little, people stopped talking about Benetton, of the United Colors of Benetton, and their sales dropped tremendously. A campaign like this, places Benetton all over the media without the cost associated to a more traditional advertising campaign.
CP: Then it is like Benetton is condemned to executing controversial campaigns otherwise it doesn’t sell. We see other companies within product lines similar to Benetton that do not have to resort to shock campaigns and sell more than Benetton.
HG: Who choose not to use such campaigns. Benetton has a history of doing this kind of shock campaigns. In the 90’s it has a campaign with a newborn still dirty from the delivery in a photograph and these images were highly shocking to some, but no one can remain indifferent to these types of things. It is either I like it or I love it or I hate it. Part of the Benetton Unhate campaign that they have right now allows you to upload a photo of yourself in the act of kissing someone and the website’s software will match you with another person in a kiss. You also have to mention what you want to stop hating. And people are posting politics, corruption, etc. There are many people who hate this campaigns, but they are still talking about it and there are many people who believe this is a very positive campaign and like the fact that it endorses forgetting hatred and a push to re-encounter with ourselves and let’s do something controversial.
CP: Claudia, is there a debate within the advertising community about the limits these types of campaigns should or should not have> Everybody talks about them and it’s successful there’s no doubt about that. But there is criticism stating that they went too far. Do advertising professionals question this? Or have they ever questioned it before?
HG: Yes, it has been questioned through history many times. But really, the goal is that people talk about the brand and that goal was achieved. The second goal will see to the loss Benetton had on its last quarter in Europe, if it’s recovered or not.
CP: But is there an ethical conflict if Benetton wanted to sell its clothing line to Catholics and a group of them gets offended because Benetton portrays the Pope kissing and Iman? Could this, instead of increasing sales, decrease them within this group?
HG: Exactly, but not 100% of the market will purchase your clothes.
CP: Sure, but let’s say, that it does not matter, as long as it’s successful. What do you do? If it sells what we want, is that the advertising slogan?
HG: No, it’s not at all like that. I I aim to my target audience and I know this is a person that wants to change the world, it becomes about who is in alignment with my brand and with my brand’s philosophy. And Benetton has that type of positioning. It looks for someone that revolutionizes, that evolves, that these images move him or her but in a positive way and not a negative one. Evidently, because this is such a contentious and controversial campaign, a large group of people stand up and say no, this doesn’t seem right to us. How do they dare show the Pope’s image and there’s others who say no, we think it’s perfect that they show the Pope because we had enough of the hypocrisy and the hatred.
CP: Claudia, there is another element here – sorry to interrupt but we have very little time left – and it is the way in which the campaign was executed. The image of the Pope kissing the Iman was placed really close to the Pope’s chambers and it was done in a way called Guerrilla Marketing. That is, they hired some people and they post the ads and they leave. And that is a bit incoherent to take down the image now and apologize when they knew in advance it wasn’t going to be approved of by the manner in which things were done? Should we believe in Benetton’s apologies?
HG: No. But in reality these types of campaigns are executed because one knows a reaction will be the result of it. It is a strategy.
CP: Do you think any of the other leaders will react or just the Pope and nobody else?
HG: Of course, there will be more reactions. Didn’t the White House already state that Obama’s image should not be used? Hugo Chavez, I don’t know if he will opine on this but they will have to do the same if he does. It doesn’t matter. The truth is that the goal was the generation of word-of-mouth. People now will be on the lookout to see what Benetton’s new line of clothing looks like that is generating so much controversy because people are very curious.
CP: Successful, yes. We agree on that. And I open the floor to our audience to let us know if they consider the campaign ethical or not and if it is justified or if they could have had a similar effect with another type of campaign. Claudia Havi Goffan, President of Target Latino, thank you so much for joining us.