This essay discusses the advertising intentions of Benetton in creating its unique market position identity and also conducts a semiotic analysis of three Benetton advertisements to illustrate the connotative and denotative meanings as it relates to signs and the signified. …
It is evident from the study that, unlike other fashion retailers that utilise differentiation strategies as it relates to product, quality or pricing, Benetton has selected to undertake advocacy advertising to build identity with international consumers. This form of advertising is where the company presents its unique values and beliefs as it relates to a particular social issue. Benetton recognised that the vastness of fashion retail competition limited its ability to provide differentiation from competitors since the majority of rivals produced similar garments and fashion accessories. In order to successfully sell its fashion products to a mass market of consumers, the business required a unique positioning strategy as part of its brand development. Brand positioning is related to how customers will perceive distinctness of one business over competing brands, a cognitive-targeting strategy for how a brand will occupy focus in the consumers’ minds. Benetton is governed by leadership that maintains strong historical ties and current values related to racism and improving equality among all of humankind. The company therefore decided it would be the most viable solution for building a solid brand identity that was recognised and would gain loyalty by promoting these corporate values in all product advertisements. A tiered structure consisted of first omitting the product from advertisement, instead focusing on social advocacy issues. Once the business was assured that they had established a unique market position, the Benetton Group began to include product in advertisement to illustrate its devotion to colour as it pertains to the tangible fashion merchandise. The company utilised an advertisement that depicted the family of the future (Appendix B), illustrating an inter-racial couple and their Asian child. The goal of this advertisement was to express Benetton’s beliefs in the sanctity of equality by utilising imagery that would peak the curiosity and imagination of more progressive and liberal consumer target groups. These images that depict ethnic differences “become crass caricatures which advocate harmony through which Benetton produces images of racial and cultural purity” (Seppanen, 2000: 88). The company’s ideology is that racism and progressive lifestyles related to ethnicity are common, universal values, thus the ideology of global unity is a method to unite domestic and international customers under the United Colours of Benetton concept (Ise, 1998). Benetton believes that racism and ethnic social complacency are world-wide concerns, a type of “horrendous reality” (Ganesan, 2002: 55) that has some form of meaning to all varieties of consumer groups. Benetton removes images of racism from their most familiar contexts and then establishes them again in new, creative contexts in order to ensure they are given attention and be noticed by ...
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