Last night, I listed a link to this item on Feministing.com in my Remains of the Day. I usually check things out for myself, especially when they interest me, as this purported clothing ad that uses images of domestic violence victims did. But I couldn’t find anything on the official Benetton site or on the McCann Erickson (ad agency) site.
So I emailed the Benetton PR person and asked, can you tell me more about this campaign.
Well – I got this email back:
Thank you for you email. I would like to inform you that the images you
are refering to with the logo “Domestic Colors of Violence” are a FAKE and
are NOT an adverting campaign of Benetton Group.
The ONLY project Benetton has done on domestic violence was in 2003,
created and developed by Fabrica (Benetton’s communication research center)
and Colors Magazine (part of the publishing activities at Fabrica). Please
see the attached link for further information
Thank you for contacting us.
Senior Fashion Public Relations Manager
Benetton USA Corporation
601 Fifth Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel. 212-593-0290 ext.337
But I so trust Feministing (seriously, I really do) that it was like having bumped into a closed glass door that previously had been open: I had to do it a second time, just to be sure.
So I called Ms. Nouhi to find out, what is going on?
Here is what she told me:
We’re “well-known for the ads that we’ve done in the past and are a global company.”
“There are a lot of strange people around. As of right now, we learned about it today” from me and “from one other journalist from Salon.com who contacted me”
The ad is “not ours whatsoever – we don’t use an outside agency – our ads are done internally.”
Benetton is “investigating. I don’t know exactly what headquarters is doing right now.”
“When I got it from Salon, I was so shocked. I immediately sent it to Italy and for sure they are looking into it”
“I hope McCann Erickson [the ad agency indicated as responsible] is investigating too”
“I wish all the blogs would do the same thing you did and Salon did. Its very hard to control the information.”
“This is definitely not something that we’ve done.”
“We would have put logo on it if it was something we did and, definitely, it’s not our logo.”
Wow. All I can say, at the moment, is wow.
First of all, I’ve always trusted Feministing and this would be the first time that a very major blog (as blogs go), that I’ve decided to trust (and I’m pretty picky and am always championing that people can discriminate for themselves), ends up getting punked.
Then again, I suppose it can happen to anyone. I’ve been punked and I know I’ve punked a few people in my time (when I didn’t even mean to, no less).
So what have we learned today?
SEND AN EMAIL. PICK UP THE PHONE. Trust your instincts to question when something seems really outrageous – and in this case, the ad campaign would be outrageous and so, we have to ask, I had to ask, why – why is someone – Benetton – doing this, rather than me speculate why they are doing it or what’s good or bad about them doing it.
Because guess what?
They weren’t and aren’t doing it.
And the only way I learned that? Was by going to the, um, what do you call it?