Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 23

Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues

3
Copyright 1997 Journal of Communication 47(3). Summer. 0021-9916/97/$5.00
United Colors and Untied Meanings:
Benetton and the Commodification
of Social Issues
by Serra A. Tinic
The Benetton United Colors campaign illustrates how modern
advertising has been radicalized into an explicitly political forum.
Although lifestyle companies often attempt to associate their
products with progressive social movements, Benetton was the first
company to eliminate pictures of its products from its advertise-
ments. In 1989, ads depicting Benettons sportswear were replaced
with powerful and problematic visual images of AIDS, environ-
mental disasters, terrorism, and racism. Social issues became the
embodiment of Benettons product and, through the transforma-
tion into commodities, lost their significance as problematic
human conditions. The campaign illustrates how the decon-
textualization of placing issues within the framework of product
promotion, creates a tone of discordant meaning not adequately
explained by mass culture critiques of consumerism. This case
study recommends that advertising should be studied as a complex
and contested social discourse within 1990s consumer culture.
Advertising has not been thoroughly studied as a significant site of ideological
struggle in the cultural discourse of Western, industrialized societies. Rather than
examining advertising as an integral mediating discourse in the culture of
capitalism, one that continually borrows from, recycles, and recontributes to
social communication, anthropology and mass communication have relegated
advertising to the role of a functionalist or structuralist mechanism that main-
tains existing power relations. In communication studies, advertising is usually
critiqued as the means by which corporate interests create and perpetuate false
needs in their efforts continuously to move merchandise. When attention is
Serra A. Tinic (MA, Pennsylvania State University, 1990) is a doctoral candidate in the School of
Journalism at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research interests include issues of collective
identity in a global media environment. The author thanks Christopher Anderson, Carol Greenhouse,
and Dwight Brooks for their comments on earlier drafts. An earlier version was presented at the
1994 annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication,
Atlanta, GA.
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
4
given to the more creative aspects of product promotion, it is usually a cursory
address of popular culture trendiness (Lester, 1992). As McCracken (1988)
explained, anthropology has only recently begun to shift away from its almost
neurotic refusal to contemplate its own culture, and put to use its highly
developed theories of culture, symbol, and meaning in the field of Western
high and low cultures (pp. xiixiii).
Although there is a good deal of validity in the critical perspective, it is time
to expand the study of advertising and to examine this means of communica-
tion as something more than capitalist propaganda. Today, advertising is one of
the most pervasive forms of global communication and a significant site of
cultural production. As it crosses physical borders, advertising attempts to
transcend ideological boundaries. The message constructed and conveyed can
tell us a great deal about where we have been and where we are going, both as
individual and collective nations and cultures. Furthermore, in the past decade
there have been dynamic changes in advertising content as a new generation of
corporate leaders and advertising professionals have reconceptualized the role
of advertising into a political forum. The leader in this commercial revolution
has been the Italian clothing company, Benetton Group S.P.A.
In 1989, Benetton officially adopted the trademark, United Colors of
Benetton, formalizing a 6-year strategy to alter radically the face of conven-
tional advertising. The United Colors campaign is radical to the extent that it
violates the fundamental principles of traditional product advertising. Whereas
advertising is usually discussed and criticized for its propensity to symbolize the
purchase of goods as the solution to lifes problems, Benettons products do not
even appear in their advertisements. In place of the product, Benetton presents
powerful and problematic visual images of social issues such as environmental
disasters, AIDS, terrorism, murder, and racism. In short, Benettons United
Colors campaign serves as an antithesis to customary notions of advertising in
that an ideology is explicitly promoted through an implied product rather than
the other way around. Benettons campaign has generated numerous imitations
by competing clothing companies and other lifestyle product producers. It has
signified an important moment in this communication medium.
Although it is impossible to determine if the United Colors strategy has
provided the catalyst for Benettons profit increases and market growth, the
series has contributed to the companys international recognition and notoriety.
Many of the advertisements have simultaneously won awards and caused public
protest. Benettons portrayals of racial unity have fueled accusations of racism.
Images implying religious tolerance have been called blasphemous. These
multiple readings of the United Colors series of advertisements represent the
polarization of opinions about the campaign and explain the controversy that
now surrounds the companys philosophy of communication.
Beyond complaints about individual Benetton advertisements, there appears
to be an undercurrent of unease caused by the fact that social problems have
been linked to the sale of designer clothing. In this respect, the company
decontextualizes social and political turmoil by using a consumerist platform to
portray ambiguous images about issues that are traditionally the terrain of news
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
5
discourse and public service announcements. The extent to which the United
Colors campaign has been debated in the press, and by the public, provides an
exemplary case study of the problems associated with advertising as a form of
social discourse in industrialized, capitalist societies.
Therefore, I examine the background of the United Colors of Benetton
campaign and argue that the debate initiated by this advertising strategy has less
to do with company ideology than it does with the larger issue of the
commodification of social and political issues. In other words, the significance
of cultural problems is perceived to be minimized or tainted by their association
with the realm of commerce. The implication is that advertising transforms
culture into currency and, thus, devalues social experience in a manner dissimi-
lar to other forms of mass media.
In the first section I detail the background of the United Colors campaign as
a conscious strategy to transform advertising into a broader category of commu-
nication, and outline the forms of resistance to Benettons venture. In the
second and third sections, I discuss the theoretical connotations of advertising
as a form of social discourse and argue that the United Colors campaign reflects
the discomfort created by the postmodern dilemma of arbitrary meaning. In the
fourth section, I illustrate the problem of meaning through a metaphorical
analysis of selected advertisements from the campaign. The essay concludes by
examining the limits and possibilities of reconceptualizing the medium of
advertising to one that contributes more to society than solely to the sale of
merchandise.
Advertising and Benettons Global Strategy
Despite the fact that the company had stores throughout the world, before 1984
Benetton advertised only in France and Italy. The companys first step into
international advertising began with the campaign: All the Colors of the
World. These ads depicted large groups of young people, of various ethnicities
and nationalities, wearing Benetton clothing and having a good time (see Figure
1). Although the scenes implied racial unity, the product remained the central
focus of the advertisement. In 1985, the slogan, United Colors of Benetton,
was used for the first time, and the visual imagery began to incorporate issues
of world peace and harmony (see Figure 2). By 1989, the product had com-
pletely disappeared from Benettons advertisements, and strikingly symbolic
political photographs defined the campaign. One image portrayed a White man
and a Black man handcuffed to each other. Another presented a Black woman
nursing a White infant (see Figures 3 and 4). The latter exemplified the conflict-
ing interpretations of the campaign. It was considered too controversial for
publication in the United States, given the explicit historical connotations of
slavery and racism, although it simultaneously won artistic awards in Europe.
It was also at this point that public debate about Benettons advertising
dramatically increased. The level of contention reached a high point in 1991
with the publication of three photographs. One depicted a dying AIDS patient
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
6
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3 A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
s
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
s
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
s
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
7
Figure 6
Figure 5
Figure 4
A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
s
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
s
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
s
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
8
surrounded by his family (see Figure 5). Another depicted an African guerilla
holding a human bone (see Figure 6). The third depicted a burning car (see
Figure 7). The advertisements were banned from billboards in Germany. This
occurred despite praise for the AIDS photo by a German AIDS group, which felt
that the picture would help break down taboos and bring death from AIDS
into the public consciousness (German court, 1992). The French advertising
watchdog organization, BVP, similarly recommended banning the series. It
stated that: French advertisers agreed unanimously that publicity should not
show human distress, disarray or death (Ban recommendation, 1992). At
approximately the same time, the Advertising Standards Authority of Britain
reported a record number of complaints over Benettons newborn baby ad (see
Figure 8). Of the 10,000 total complaints received by the ASA that year, 800
concerned Benetton (Simpson, 1992).
From its inception, the United Colors campaign was planned to transform
Benettons advertising into a campaign of public communication, which would
sell the corporations philosophy as a product in and of itself. The companys
public relations statements forthrightly admitted that Benetton wanted to be
known as a corporation with a social conscience, and, therefore, described the
evolution of their campaign as such: Our strategy of advertising is to commu-
nicate to consumers rather than to sell to them. All over the world Benetton
stands for multi-culturalism, world peace, racial harmony, a progressive ap-
proach toward serious social issues and colorful sportswear (Benetton Group
S.P.A. [Benetton], 1992). It is difficult to overlook the irony in this statement
because Benettons efforts at communication, as opposed to selling, were
inextricably linked to colorful sportswear.
However, it is also too easy to dismiss Benettons claims of beneficence
entirely. The United Colors campaign was not the inspiration of an international
advertising conglomerate. It was the result of intense collaboration between
company President Luciano Benetton and Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani.
Benetton, who was elected to the Italian Senate in 1992, has long been a
politically active individual, and as the Benetton Group is a family-owned
business, it is not surprising that the personal philosophies of the president are
interchangeable with the corporate image. Benetton, himself, claimed that he
was
only interested in the world and people. . . . I have always been sympathetic to
peoples problems, to minority rights, birth control, disease, wars, racism,
religious intolerance. I cannot offer solutions to these problems, but if I can
make people more aware than that is all I offer. (White, 1992, p. B2)
Benetton has found a sympathetic partner in Toscani, who has complete
creative control over the design and execution of the companys advertising. In
fact, the campaign is very much a reflection of Toscanis personal world view
(Allen, 1991, p. J8). As a former art student and the son of a photojournalist,
Toscani is one of advertisings harshest critics. Indeed, his own words reflect the
arguments of many mass society critics:
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
9
The advertising industry has corrupted society. It persuades people that they
are respected for what they consume, that they are only worth what they
possess. . . . One day there will be a Nuremburg trial of advertisers who have
corrupted every form of communication. I will sit on it, I will be the prosecu-
tion and the public. (quoted in Clough, 1992, p. 15)
Toscanis objective, as Benettons creative director, was to document social
realities rather than promote sales. Therefore, it was his idea to divorce the
image from the product to force people to think about political problems
(Johnston, 1991, p. 17). It is this sense of realism that has blurred the fine line
between product advertising and political proselytizing, and has led many to
doubt Benettons motivations. According to Luciano Benetton, the United Colors
Figure 8
Figure 7
A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
s
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
s
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
10
campaign was intended to accomplish something more useful than the sale of a
product. It was conceived as a means to draw attention to important social
problems and thereby generate public discussion (Amoore, 1992, p. 3). It has
accomplished that goal. However, whether the public is discussing the issues or
just the ads remains uncertain.
The fact that the campaign serves both the ideological and economic inter-
ests of the company has been fortuitous for Benetton. For similar reasons, it has
provoked a strong reaction from the advertisements critics. The economic
expediency of United Colors is not denied by the Benetton company. The
corporations public statements suggest that the current campaign facilitates a
global advertising effort:
Benettons strategy for advertising is to communicate in a consistent way in
the almost 100 markets we do business. Different markets respond to different
trends from the collection and are experiencing different climates and
seasons at any particular time, therefore it is virtually impossible to represent
our 4000-piece yearly product offering in an adequate, seasonally appropri-
ate, representative way throughout the world. Instead, Benetton has chosen to
create brand awareness through non-product image advertising that positions
the company as a concerned, socially-active, cutting edge and global fashion
apparel company. (Benetton, 1992)
Consequently, Benetton spends only 4% of its annual profits on advertising and
communication (Benetton defends, 1991). Furthermore, the free publicity
resulting from the extensive and controversial coverage of the campaign
appears to have benefited the companys international sales, as profits rose by
25% in 1990, 24% in 1991, and 12% in 1992 (Italys Benetton, 1993; More
controversy, 1992; Profits up, 1992).
What is fascinating about Benettons global advertising success is that the
company believes that politically loaded imagery is more conducive to cross-
cultural sales than is climate-specific clothing. Their annual profit increases
imply that this assumption is correct. Perhaps there is support for the assertion
that global travel and communication have created a new Republic of Technol-
ogy, which has homogenized world tastes, wants, and possibilities into global-
market proportions (Levitt, 1986, p. 27). However, upon closer examination, it
is more plausible to argue that Benetton is acutely aware of the composition and
interests of its target market of upwardly mobile and educated 18- to 34-year-olds.
According to Schudson (1989), to be effective, advertising must find reso-
nance or match the needs and interests of particularly socially and culturally
constituted groups (p. 169). Schudson stated that, Whether an advertisement
or a painting or a novel appears striking to an audience will depend very much
on how skillfully the object draws from the general culture and from the
specific cultural field it is a part of (p. 166). By comparing advertising to other
forms of cultural production, Schudson reinforced his earlier work in which he
argued that advertising is not solely a tactic of corporate persuasion but also a
distinctive and central symbolic structure (p. 210). The Benetton advertise-
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
11
ments simultaneously reinforce and contradict his argument that advertising is
best described as capitalist realism, whereby reality is pictured not as it is
but as it should be in a modern, industrial society:
Ads are oddly anticapitalist or noncapitalist, honoring traditions of social
solidarity like family, kinship, and friendship that at least in principle are in
conflict with the logic of the market. What is capitalist is that these values are
put to work to sell goods, invoked in the service of the marketplace. And what
is also distinctively capitalist is that the satisfactions portrayed are invariably
private, even if they are familial or social; they do not invoke public or
collective values. . . . Think of how hollow public service announcements
generally sound. They, too, invoke values that matter to people. But they do
not have the all important frame . . . a sales pitch. (Schudson, 1986, p. 22)
Advertising as capitalist realism illustrates the central tension in the United
Colors campaign. The campaigns primary purpose is to sell goods, yet it does
invoke public and collective values. In this respect, the ads serve as public
service announcements with a sales pitch.
This implicit contradiction between the aims of public service and the goals
of commerce underlines the controversy created by the Benetton ad series.
Among people for whom there is no resonance with the advertisements, the
images appear to exploit social problems in pursuit of clothing sales. Some
members of the advertising industry have described Benettons strategy as
shock advertising, in which the intent is not necessarily to sell a product but
to elicit attention for a brand name in the crowded consumer market (Horovitz,
1992, p. D1). Haug (1986) referred to this process as commodity aesthetics,
whereby advertising appeals to things other than use-value to gain notice
among competing brands (pp. 24, 25). In the case of Benettons ads, commod-
ity aesthetics has led to the accusation that the company is selling sweaters off
the backs of human suffering (Horovitz, 1992, p. D1).
Although Benetton will not refute the fact that getting noticed is a sound
business strategy, the company describes its campaign as both corporate and
public communications. However, to illustrate the tension between the ad series
and public service announcements, it is perhaps more useful to describe United
Colors as lying somewhere between advocacy and controversy advertising. Both
advocacy and controversy advertising are categories of the larger genre of
corporate image or institutional advertising. Advocacy advertising is a form of
communication by which corporations promote positions on public policy
issues that will, in some way, benefit their market position or enhance their
profile. Although advocacy advertising is usually associated with lobbying for
economic and political policies conducive to corporate operations, this form of
promotion also includes the concept of benevolent sponsorship, in which
Issues of interest to the sponsor are presented within the framework of overall
social problems and suggestions for their solution. The public is exhorted to
make sacrifices voluntarily (Sethi, 1987, p. 286). The United Colors campaign
works as advocacy advertising to the extent that it calls attention to social
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
12
problems. However, because the advertisements do not recommend solutions
(although they imply public voluntarism), they fall closer to controversy adver-
tising. Controversy advertising refers to advertising designed to have bearing
on a matter of recognized controversy (International Advertising Association
[IAA], 1977, p. 18). The emphasis is not on obtaining a specific result from the
advertising, but instead to encourage a range of levels of activity from passive
opposition to discussion and even dispute. It suggests a question at issue but
does not limit the number of viewpoints as would dialogue (IAA, 1977, p. 17).
This form of advertising is linked most closely to corporate-image communica-
tions. The implication is that, by buying a companys product, the consumer is
purchasing a philosophy.
Although the differences between advocacy and controversy advertising
appear slight, they are significant. Public service announcements typically are
advocacy messages. They present a problem, describe a possible solution, and
encourage the public to contribute voluntarily to the organizations social
efforts. The Benetton advertisements call attention to social problems, but
provide no information other than the companys trademark. This has been a
primary source of contention for the campaigns critics. For example, AIDS
organizations and the media have accused Benetton of exploiting the illness,
not by portraying its capacity for devastation, but by failing to provide informa-
tion about disease prevention and volunteer programs. Mulvagh (1992) stated
that:
Among the arguments marshalled by the company to justify its campaign, it
has had the temerity to state that this is not an advertising campaign at all but
a humanitarian crusade of consciousness-raising. Then why the logo, one
might ask, and where is the health advice? Though it is all to the good that
companies should have a social awareness programme built into their
corporate philosophy. . . . Benettons campaign is simply covert advertising
posing as social concern. It is at best, wooly philosophising and, at worst,
cynical manipulation. (p. 15)
Mulvaghs (1992) assertions underline the fact that it is not the provocative
content of the United Colors campaign that disturbs people. Rather, it is the
ambiguous intent of these images and their commercial framework. In contrast
to the public service announcement, Benettons incorporation of social dilem-
mas, removed from their usual context, is seen as a design feature to attract
public attention to the company and its goods. In the case of United Colors,
social issues become commodities.
The Commodification of Social Issues and Decontextualization
To understand the importance of context in the United Colors controversy, it is
helpful to review earlier work in anthropology and mass communication
regarding advertising. Critical or mass culture theorists view advertising as
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
13
separate from authentic cultural discourse. Contrary to Schudsons (1986)
suggestion that advertising is a central symbolic structure within market-oriented
societies, mass culture theorists discuss advertising as something imposed upon
society rather than an integral component thereof. As Anderson (1984) ex-
plained, advertisings problematic nature is a result of the apprehension people
feel about any persuasive activity (p. 23). However, this only partially accounts
for the mass culture critique of the industry. The larger issue is that this persua-
sive activity is employed in the name of profit, and subverts culture to material-
istic ends.
Critics of advertising have built upon Ewens (1976) argument that the early
leaders of U.S. industry intentionally created an ideology of consumption to
solve the problems of overproduction. As such, advertising operated as an
agent of social control, to transform traditional cultural values through the
promotion of product consumption as the path to social betterment. Dyer
(1982) aptly illustrated this perspective:
It [advertising] projects the goals and values that are consistent with and
conducive to the consumer economy and socializes us into thinking that we
can buy a way of life as well as goods. . . . The drift if not the impact of the use
of these values [friendship, love, happiness] in selling means that genuine
feelings are devalued or corrupted, and previously acceptable words become
false and used loosely. (pp. 77, 80)
In this respect, issues of racism and AIDS have become the embodiment of
Benettons product and, through the transformation into commodities, lose their
significance as problematic human conditions.
Anthropological approaches to advertising bring us closer to the discussion
of advertising as cultural discourse by examining the role it plays for people as
they are socially situated. Building upon Levi-Strausss concept of myth,
Leymore (1975) explained that, in addition to serving the interests of industry
leaders, advertising serves as the capitalist societys equivalent to traditional
mythology. Fundamental problems of dichotomies such as we-they, life-death,
war-peace, happiness-sadness are mediated by advertising. According to
Leymore (1975):
Advertising (like myth) acts as an anxiety-reducing mechanism. It does this,
first, by restating essential dilemmas of the human condition and, second, by
offering a solution to them. To the constant nagging dilemmas of life, advertis-
ing gives a simple answer. In buying certain products or obtaining a service,
one buys not only a thing, but also an image. This image consists of belief
and the hope in something better. (pp. 154, 156)
The use of mythic explanations of advertising, in the true anthropological sense
and as it has been adapted by communication theory, describes how this dis-
course reaffirms the existing social structure or contributes to system reinforce-
ment (Marchand, 1985, p. xviii). For this reason, neither approach is able to ex-
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
14
plain fully the Benetton phenomenon. The United Colors campaign restates the
dilemmas of the human condition, in all their starkness, and does not overtly
suggest solutions. Moreover, these ads work more in favor of system critique
than reinforcement. This complete decontextualization of social issues by plac-
ing them within the framework of product promotion creates a tone of discor-
dant meaning that is not explained in currently established critiques of advertis-
ing. Therefore, to comprehend more fully the ways in which the Benetton ads
commodify social problems, it is useful to consider them within the framework
of postmodernism and the larger critique of consumption as an aesthetic activity.
Benetton and the Global Postmodern
To examine the United Colors campaign within the parameters of postmodern
thought is to enter into a contested arena of scholarly debate. Theories of
postmodernity range from those that assert the end of meaning and death of
history (e.g., Baudrillard, 1983), to those that investigate the more subtle shifts
in cultural production and issues of representation in a rapidly integrated global
economic order (e.g., Harvey, 1989; Hutcheon, 1989). Without slipping into the
cultural nihilism of the first perspective, Benettons advertisements are best
discussed in terms of a common theme in most postmodern arguments: the
increasingly commodified nature of self and group representation in the latest
stage of advanced capitalism.
Postmodernitys departure from modernism is customarily defined by the
technological advances that have redefined the notions of individual and
collective identities in an environment characterized by the rapid flow of global
capital, information, and popular culture. Consumer goods and the images they
convey cross physical borders and are appropriated, in often unanticipated
ways, by people responding to the historical, political, and social conditions of
their specific cultural contexts. Jameson (1993) explained that the key feature of
postmodernity is the lack of distinction between base and superstructure,
whereby the economic and the cultural collapse into one another and every-
thing, including political and social expression, are for sale. He noted that:
In postmodern culture, culture has become a product in its own right. . . .
modernism was still minimally and tendentially the critique of the commodity
and the effort to make it transcend itself. Postmodernism is the consumption
of sheer commodification as a process. (pp. x, xxi)
As such, it is no longer sufficient to discuss advertising solely in terms of
use versus exchange values because goods no longer need to be promoted
for what they can do for us, but rather how their purchase will allow us to
represent or express ourselves. According to Jhally (1990):
[Manipulation] of a symbolic code is the most important feature of advanced
capitalism. Objects lose any real connection with the basis of their practical
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
15
utility and instead come to be the material correlate (the signifier) of an
increasing number of constantly changing, abstract qualities. (p. 11)
This ambiguity of images, symbolization, and historical-social context in late
capitalism illustrates how current advertising is a complex cultural discourse and
a site of ideological struggle. Imagery and interpretation form a problematic
relationship, as we can no longer assume that meaning is always shared.
Misunderstanding becomes more frequent as the media appear increasingly to
construct our society for us, and meaning becomes more arbitrary. Corporate
statements from Benetton suggest that the company realizes the immense
impact of this phenomenon:
Using these images in this unconventional way is an effort by Benetton to
break through the complacency that exists in our society due to the constant
flow of even the most horrendous realities communicated through conven-
tional media such as the evening news or the morning paper. By removing
these images from their familiar contexts and putting them in a new context
they are more likely to be noticed and given the attention they deserve as the
viewer becomes involved in the process of answering the questions: What does
this image mean? Why does this image appear with a Benetton logo? How do I
feel about the subject of the image? What can I do? (Benetton, 1992)
Although Benetton attempts to transform advertising into dialogue, the com-
pany cannot assume that the preferred reading will dominate audience interpre-
tation because attempts at resignification are being applied in a context of
bounded or constricted discourse: advertising. The sales pitch lurks uncomfort-
ably in the background.
Another problem in the United Colors campaign is that these images become
signifiers for clothing, a particularly trendy and often trivialized commodity.
Despite the fact that clothing and body design have long been significant
statements of identity in traditional societies, fashion as recognized in modern
societies is frequently criticized as being artificial, unreal, plastic, and unnatu-
ral (Pohlemus & Procter, 1978, p. 27). Ewen (1984) reinforced this point by
distinguishing between style as social history (authentic) and fashion as
market mechanism of the style industries (inauthentic), in which companies
appropriate the oppositional politics of youth cultures to sell their products:
The ability to appropriate and commodify meaning is a continual feature of
the style market (pp. 248, 251). From this perspective, the United Colors
campaign can be seen as not only cheapening social problems but also of co-
opting the progressive political movement of its target market as a means to
move merchandise. Politics and culture become symbolized as fashion, a
transitory and fickle commodity.
In an insightful analysis of the racial and social implications of Benettons
advertising and business practices, Giroux (1994) argued that it is precisely this
aestheticization of politics, and its potential to stifle meaningful social action,
that underline the central problem of consumer postmodernism and Benettons
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
16
mode of advertising. Girouxs (1994) own study of specific advertisements
illustrates the problems of interpretation that have characterized the diversity of
opinions surrounding the campaign. Using a semiotic analysis, Giroux argued
that many of the ads reproduce dominant renderings of social issues that
serve to reinforce rather than counteract the tensions of racism and social
inequality by removing them from their proper historical perspective. The
problem here is not with Girouxs readings of the advertisements, but rather,
with his assumption that there will be single, dominant interpretations of such
complex constructions. For instance, Giroux pointed to the image of the White
hand handcuffed to the Black hand (see Figure 3) and concluded that it is a
calculated and false equality in an image that can only signify the perpetual
image of Blacks as criminals (Giroux, 1994, p. 18). Yes, this is definitely one
interpretation of the image, but it ignores the fact that the ambiguous use of
these images will result in conflicting interpretations, depending on the histori-
cal and social conditions that different individuals bring to their readings of
each advertisement. The handcuff ad illustrates this dilemma. It can be seen as
a racist portrayal or as a direct photo appropriation of the 1958 movie, The
Defiant Ones, one of the first Hollywood movies to promote racial equality.
In this respect, United Colors contradicts our conceptions of containment and
resistance in the writing and reading of media texts. As Fiske (1989) argued, the
cultural industries of capitalist societies make the fewest possible concessions to
social differences as they attempt to narrow the range of textual interpretations
in favor of the dominant ideologies of capitalism and the status quo. Advertis-
ing, in particular, attempts to contain or control the cultural meanings of
commodities by mapping them as tightly as possible onto the workings of the
financial economy (p. 29). Benetton breaches this precept by removing the
product from the text, and by emphasizing social differences and the experi-
ences of subordination within capitalist societies. Therefore, resistance, which is
usually the sole terrain of readers who subvert preferred readings of texts to
their own interests, is actually written into the open and ambiguous texts of the
United Colors campaign. To illustrate the ambiguity of decontextualization that
has led some people to laud the campaign and others to oppose it, in the
following section I discuss the contradictions between consumer post-
modernism and social activism through a brief, metaphorical analysis of the
campaign.
United Colors and Metaphoric Tensions
The decontextualized aspect of the United Colors campaign provides certain
methodological challenges to the study of the advertisements themselves.
Although semiotics has become one of the primary qualitative approaches to
the analysis of both advertising and photography, it is not easily applied to the
case of Benetton. As Nadin (1984) explained, semiotics looks for unified
referential sign systems as the basis of meaning formation. In the United Colors
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
17
series, discordant meaning results from the placement of social issues within the
framework of product promotion. Therefore, a semiotic analysis is of limited
utility. Visual metaphor analysis is better suited to the examination of the
multiple interpretations of this campaign.
Visual metaphor, similar to semiotics, is based on the premise that meaning is
dependent on a common pool of cultural signs and symbols. Meaning is
continually accessed or appropriated from a societys culture. Unlike semiotics,
however, the metaphoric approach to visual communication examines how
incongruent elements are combined to reclassify standard definitions or linguis-
tic associations. According to Johns (1984):
Metaphor is a generative process, not merely put to descriptive purposes or
used to extend an already existing meaning, but to create meaning; by
combining dissimilar images within a new context, metaphor generates new
similarity instead of merely revealing an already existing similarity. (p. 293)
Thus, the use of visual metaphors is an intentional strategy to manipulate and
reclassify information into a new meaning system based on the assumption that
this system of associations will unite/divide the audience (pp. 292293).
Drawing upon Roland Barthess study of photography, Renov (1989) underlined
that this form of manipulation ultimately affords insight into the epistemologi-
cal dissonances of a culture (p. 8). In brief, some people will be immediately
conversant in the new message, whereas others will be unable to accept it.
According to Kaplans (1992) study of modern advertising, visual metaphors,
like their literary counterparts, reinvent categorical representations that facilitate
communication and simultaneously create tensions in meaning through their
contradictions. His categories of linguistic tension, pragmatic tension, and
hermeneutic tension, provide a useful framework for the analysis of the United
Colors campaign.
As Kaplan (1972) explained, linguistic tension in a pictorial medium results
from the relationship of graphic elements that is nonconventional in terms of
that mediums syntax (p. 204). This is, perhaps, the most significant form of
tension in all the Benetton advertisements. The absence of products, and the
inclusion of social problems, in these photographs contradict the audiences
expectations of the central tenets of advertising as a genre. Benettons use of
the photograph of David Kirby, the man dying of AIDS-related illnesses (see
Figure 5), exemplifies this metaphoric category. When the photo originally ran
in Life magazine, it was considered an emotionally moving portrait. In fact, the
Kirby family gave Benetton permission to use the picture in the hope that it
would bring greater attention to the issue of AIDS (Curry, 1992, p. D1). How-
ever, when Benetton reprinted the image, it was seen as exploitation. Because
the framework was linked to the Benetton slogan and logo, the signifier of
human suffering no longer stood for its usual referent of the social condition.
Instead, its meaning had been disanchored and reattached to a commodity:
clothing.
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
18
This corresponds with Back and Quaades (1993) argument that the contro-
versy over United Colors was not just a dispute about content but rather a
struggle over form in which
advertising is the antithesis of truth: it belongs to the realm of fantasy and
unreality. Thus appropriating news images to the advertising context under-
mines the cultural codes by which certain forms are designated real and
others unreal. . . . Benettons attempt to get at reality threatens the status of
the human interest photograph and its ability to represent the real. (p. 77)
This, in turn, relates to a second category of metaphoric analysis: pragmatic
tension. Pragmatic tension occurs when the metaphor violates conventions for
what a word means in the real world (Kaplan, 1992, p. 204). This form of
metaphoric tension works at two levels in the Benetton advertisements. First,
similar to linguistic tension, there are certain audience assumptions about the
nature of advertising. Here, audiences are accustomed to seeing advertisements
promote the purchase of goods as the solutions to the everyday problems of
life. The United Colors campaign contradicts this assumption by presenting
social problems, without recommendations for solutions, in the absence of a
product. The message is definitely not one that declares: You can buy happi-
ness. In fact, by presenting current social and political turmoil, the ads provide
an ironic critique of capitalism to the extent that they imply that consumption
will not provide the gratification we have been programmed to hope for
(Squires, 1992, p. 19). Second, the Benetton ads violate common notions of the
proper place from which to discuss social and political issues. For most
people, the central problems of the human condition should not be juxtaposed
with the sale of sweaters.
It is at this stage, pragmatic tension, that the advertisements of the United
Colors campaign work at a metonymic level in which the central component of
the message is conveyed by that part of the picture that is missingthe part
that the viewer never sees but is nevertheless able to picture. . . . Metaphors
refer the viewer to something outside the image (Johns, 1984, pp. 309, 323).
The unfurled condoms ad (see Figure 9) works very well in this respect, as
multicolored prophylactics simultaneously represent the timely issue of safe sex
and the colorful knitwear, which is exnominated from the image. Therefore,
although there is no explicit product in the Benetton advertisements, the reader
who knows of the company realizes that the association between the documen-
tary image and the green United Colors logo form a representation of sporty
clothing. In fact, the product is more conspicuous by its absence. The implied
message becomes: You cant buy happiness but you can buy social aware-
ness.
For example, at first glance readers may wonder why a photograph of a row
of vials of blood (see Figure 10) should motivate them to buy a sweater. Upon
closer examination the vials image renders two meanings. First, the association
with blood testing provides a link to AIDS. Second, names on the test tubes are
those of famous world leadersimplying either equal susceptibility to the
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
19
disease, or the fact that beneath skin level we are all the same color. The
polysemic quality of this particular picture holds something for anyone who is
socially conscious. Consequently, the consumer can feel satisfaction from
purchasing the goods of a company that appears to put social and political
problems above product promotion. This is the most problematic aspect of the
campaign, and perhaps, the primary reason for the controversy that has sur-
rounded the company for the past decade. Beyond questions of Benettons
sincerity lies a deeper debate about what people do with these ads. Are they
compelled into activism? Is their potential for activism quelled, do they equate
purchasing these products as a form of symbolic social contribution? Do they
merely discuss the sensational aspects of the campaign without either purchas-
ing Benettons goods or donating their time or money to causes? These are the
Figure 9 A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
Figure 10 A
d
v
e
r
t
is
in
g

C
o
n
c
e
p
t
:

O
.

T
o
s
c
a
n
i.

C
o
u
r
t
e
s
y

o
f

U
n
it
e
d

C
o
lo
r
s

o
f

B
e
n
e
t
t
o
n
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
20
issues addressed in the final category of metaphoric analysis: hermeneutic
tension.
Hermeneutic tension is the interpretive or decoding aspect of visual meta-
phors. Whereas linguistic and pragmatic tensions are the result of the producers
conscious manipulation of discordant images to create a new meaning, herme-
neutic tension entails a clash of belief systems. [It occurs] when the ads
representation of abstract qualities of the product or service pose at least a mild
challenge to the readers credulity (Kaplan, 1992, p. 204). It is this particular
tension that illustrates the potential for multiple readings of a single image
depending on the social location and experiences of different audiences. With
this in mind, I now turn to Benettons target market of 18- to 34-year-olds, the
group for whom the United Colors campaign might hold resonance.
According to Lowery Sims, the younger end of Benettons target audience is
quite comfortable with decontextualization and the postmodern fluidity of
symbolization. Lacking the historical framework of the preceding generation,
this group has different icons and is culturally fluent in the random and arbi-
trary use of language and image:
The over-40 crowd has had a very classical education, and we know what the
images [Benettons representations of racial issues] mean. Young people of any
race or class dont have the same kind of innoculation. Institutions like MTV
have done a lot to decontextualize the images and that is problematic.
(quoted in Trescott, 1991, p. C1)
Simss commentary aptly underlines the importance of relative historical and
cultural knowledge in our current phase of consumer culture.
According to the Eurokids report published by the European advertising
group Alto, the new generation of young people who grew up on MTV are not
as nationalistic as their parents. Eurokids are tied to one another across national
boundaries by shared tastes in fashion, music and food, but also by lifestyle,
attitudes and values (Kaye, 1993, p. E1). In the United States, reports have
shown that young people share a specific world outlook as a result of growing
up in the 1990s. They worry about time, money, school, unemployment, the
threat of war, the environment and more (Marney, 1991, p. 14). For these
reasons youth have gone ethical. They are concerned more about rain forests
than clothes and, therefore, The successful youth campaigns of the 90s will
follow their [Benetton] lead, by realizing that a marginal, product-based selling
point has little power compared with the lure of ethical beliefs (Kaye, 1993, p.
E1). Interestingly, it is true that MTV, the problematic institution described by
Sims, has contributed to this new youth ethic of political awareness. It is also
one of the central media vehicles that has presumably created a new cross-
cultural group: the global teenager.
Vardar (1992) says certain products, especially clothing, lend themselves to
global advertising because younger people, frequent travellers and fashion
followers generally use fewer culture-bound products (p. 25). Vardar referred
to these international groups as the new consumption classes. They identify
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
21
less with nations and more with groups, professions and subcultures (1992, p.
240). Benettons own corporate research supports the above statements. The
company further noted that:
Polls indicate that our target customers are more socially active and aware
than any generation that precedes them. Various studies have shown that in
1992 consumers are as concerned by what a company stands for as they are
about the price/value relationship of that companys products. What is
considered provocative to some is entirely appropriate to others. (Benetton,
1992)
It is important at this point to emphasize that this is the companys perception
of its market. Marketing research constructs audiences more than it reflects the
actual complexities of diverse groups in society. However, to the extent that
companies appropriate the perceived beliefs and sentiments of their target
markets, they contribute to the symbolic structures of societies through their
advertising.
Therefore, if we reconsider advertising as an integral contributor to cultural
discourse, the polarization of opinions about United Colors indicates that
advertising does, indeed, pick up on existing social currents and regenerate
them into the larger social dialogue. As Hinson (1992) noted, Bill Clintons
election to the presidential office was the result of a cultural revolution that has
been brewing in popular culture and the media since the late 1980s. Hinson
(1992) argued that the presidential campaigns focus on definitions of family,
trust, and change, illustrated that:
These are words that we once used with confidence, sure of their meaning.
But this is no longer true. America is a nation in search of itself. If in the 80s
Americans went to aerobics, in the 90s theyre going to the soul gym. (p. G1)
Benetton apparently perceived this global mood change early and was able
to benefit from the attention of introducing a radical form of communication to
an international audience in psychological flux. But is this the mere co-opting
of a social movement, as the mass culture theorists might argue? Is it truly a
new way to reconcile social goals and capitalist aims through a pervasive and
influential medium? Perhaps it is both. There is no simple answer to these
questions. There is, however, an implication that a new, cynical generation,
which grew up on television and is comfortable in the constant shifts of cultural
contexts, demands more from commodity promotion than bikini-clad women in
beer commercials. Hinsons (1992) commentary reflects this perspective:
So, as usual, Madison Avenue has smelled money in the message of global
brotherhood and, as usual, has corrupted it to sell merchandise. Right? Not
exactly. Again, we are working from an antiquated notion of what advertis-
ing is. And if we readjust our attitudes, perhaps we can embrace a Benetton
ad that shows a powerful photograph of a medieval-seeming electric chair, as
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
22
something more than a small-minded exercise in consumer manipulation.
Who says a company has to be cynical in its intentions; that a standpoint
against capital punishment is debased and nullified by the commercial
purposes to which it is put? Benetton is saying if you dont like our stance on
the death penalty, we dont care if you buy our clothes. It may be calculated,
it may be smart, it may work, but it is certainly not cynical. (p. G1)
With Hinsons statement, we return to my initial question: Are we working from
an antiquated notion of advertising? Without becoming overly optimistic (or
naive), itis worth considering the recontextualization of advertising as social
discourse.
Advertising in the 1990s
Williamsons (1978) Decoding Advertising remains an often-cited work in the
study of commodity promotion: The need for relationship and human meaning
appropriated by advertising is one that, if only it was not diverted, could
radically change the society we live in (p. 14). However, operating from a
structuralist perspective, Williamson would probably be surprised that 19 years
later we would, in fact, be discussing the possibility of using advertising as
more than a vehicle for corporate manipulation of the consumer society.
Benettons (1992) response to those who disliked the apparent commodification
of social problems illustrates this desire to exploit the capabilities of advertising
for radical social change:
What is often seen as offensive, however, is not the images themselves but their
use within the narrow context of advertising. We feel this represents a very
narrow view of the potential for advertising as a medium for effective communi-
cation which goes beyond simply pitching a product or asserting that ours is
better than theirs. (Benetton, 1992)
The fact that we may have a narrow view of advertising is definitely conceiv-
able. Nevertheless, there remains a deeply ingrained suspicion that advertising
operates as an autonomous social institution, which exists solely to manipulate
and persuade. To the extent that we see advertising as the ultimate culprit in
the commodification of culture, we forget that individuals who share at least
some of our values design the messages we see. To recontextualize advertising
we have to come to terms with the fact that ours is a consumer culture, and
advertising may be one of its central symbolic structures. This realization forces
us to reconsider many of our notions of what communities and institutions
really mean.
It is significant that this is an issue that mass culture critics have not consid-
ered fully. Rather, their analyses of authentic and inauthentic forms of cultural
discourse insinuate that consumerism did not exist prior to the advent of
advertising. As Leiss, Kline, and Jhally (1990) noted, mass culture analysis aims
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
23
its critique at advertising when its larger complaint appears to be with the
existing social structure (i.e., industrialized capitalism) that depends on this
means of communication. Furthermore, the current phase of consumer culture
is so firmly entrenched that it is unrealistic to lament a bygone era of genuine
or pure culture, if such an age ever existed. In the words of Mattelart (1991),
Like it or not, commoditised space has become so pervasive that it becomes
impossible to continue thinking of culture as a reserved and uncontaminated
terrain (p. 216).
In fact, in todays society almost all forms of mass communication are
consumption based. Newspapers, popular music, and network television work
to sell audiences to corporate business interests. There is virtually no form of
culture that is not somehow tainted by commerce. In the case of advertising
discourse, the message is directly attached to the product. It is this overt
materialization of culture that we find distressful.
Given the pervasive nature of advertising in our society, it is worth
reconceptualizing the ways this form of communication contributes to, and
borrows from, existing cultural discourse. The case of Benetton serves as an
example of both the attempts at, and limits of, transforming advertising into
public communication. Although it is one of the most effective means of
reaching a large, dispersed audience, it is also bounded by its consumerist
nature. Regardless of what political philosophy a sponsor wants to convey, this
means of communication will always be limited by the advertisements inherent
bias: the sales pitch. Few people would argue with Benettons logic that its ads
reference important issues that deserve attention. The controversy is not prima-
rily over ideological perspectives, but is instead one of representation. By
framing social issues as products, Benetton was perceived as demeaning or
commodifying them. The irony lies in the fact that advertising is usually criti-
cized for presenting unrealistic, idyllic lifestyles, dulling our social senses, and
misleading us into believing that we can buy happiness. The truth may be that
that is all we will allow it to accomplish.
References
Allen, D. (1991, August 10). Benetton fashion statements pack social wallop. Toronto Star, p. J8.
Amoore, T. (1992, February 20). Benetton defiant over its images of reality. Independent, p. 3.
Anderson, M. H. (1984). Madison Avenue in Asia: Politics and transnational advertising. London:
Associated University Presses.
Back, L., & Quaade, V. (1993). Dream utopias, nightmare realities: Imaging race and culture within
the world of Benetton advertising. Third Text, 22, 6580.
Ban recommendation greets Benetton campaign launch in France. (1992, February 18). Agence
France Presse, newswire report.
Baudrillard, J. (1983). Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e).
Benetton defends shock posters. (1991, September 8). Agence France Presse, newswire report.
Benetton Group S.P.A. (1992). United Colors: A brief history. [Brochure]. New York: Author.
Journal of Communication, Summer 1997
24
Clough, P. (1992, December 16). The posters shock, but we all buy the knitwear. Independent, p. 15.
Curry, C. (1992, April 26). The man who died in an ad for Benetton. Toronto Star, p. D1.
Dyer, G. (1982). Advertising as communication. London: Routledge.
Ewen, S. (1976). Captains of consciousness. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Ewen, S. (1984). All consuming images: The politics of style in contemporary culture. New York:
Basic Books.
Fiske, J. (1989). Understanding popular culture. Boston: Unwin.
German court bans Benetton adverts. (1992, March 11). Reuter Library Report, newswire report.
Giroux, H. (1994). Disturbing pleasures: Learning popular culture. New York: Routledge.
Harvey, D. (1990). The condition of postmodernity. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Haug, W. F. (1986). Critique of commodity aesthetics: Appearance, sexuality and advertising in
capitalist society. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hinson, H. (1992, November 1). And the winner is us: The new cultural revolution started long
before the campaign. Washington Post, p. G1.
Horovitz, B. (1992, March 22). Shock ads: New rage that spawns rage. Los Angeles Times, p. D1.
Hutcheon, L. (1989). The politics of postmodernism. London: Routledge.
International Advertising Association. (1977). Controversy advertising: How advertisers present points
of view in public affairs. New York: Hastings House.
Italys Benetton announces rise in 1992 profit. (1993, March 29). Reuter Asia-Pacific Business Report,
newswire report.
Jameson, F. (1993). Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of late capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke
University Press.
Jhally, S. (1987). The codes of advertising: Fetishism and the political economy of meaning in the
consumer society. London: Routledge.
Johns, B. (1984). Visual metaphor: Lost and found. Semiotica, 52, 291333.
Johnston, B. (1991, November 9). The shocking sweater man. Daily Telegraph, p. 17.
Kaplan, S. J. (1992). A conceptual analysis of form and content in visual metaphors. Communica-
tion, 13, 197209.
Kaye, J. (1993, February 3). The rave of Europe. Los Angeles Times, p. E1.
Leiss, W., Kline, S., & Jhally, S. (1990). Social communication in advertising. Toronto: Nelson Canada.
Lester, E. (1992). Buying the exotic other: Reading the Banana Republic mail order catalog.
Journal of Communication Inquiry, 16(2), 7485.
Levitt, T. (1986). The marketing imagination. New York: Free Press.
Leymore, V. (1975). Hidden myth: Structure and symbolism in advertising. New York: Basic Books.
Marchand, R. (1985). Advertising the American dream. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Marney, J. (1991, December 9). Brand loyalty: A marketers teen dream. Marketing, p. 14.
Mattelart, A. (1991). Advertising international: The privatisation of public space. London: Routledge.
McCracken, G. (1988). Culture and consumption: New approaches to the symbolic character of
consumer goods and activities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Benetton and the Commodification of Social Issues
25
More controversy please, were Italian. (1992, February 1). Economist (U.K. Ed.), p. 84.
Mulvagh, J. (1992, February 15). Never mind the label, feel the compassion. Daily Telegraph, p. 12.
Nadin, M. (1984). On the meaning of the visual: Twelve theses regarding the visual and its
interpretation. Semiotica, 52, 335337.
Pohlemus, T., & Procter, L. (1978). Fashion and anti-fashion: An anthropology of clothing and
adornment. London: Thames & Hudson.
Profits up 24% at Benetton. (1992, March 28). New York Times, p. 39.
Renov, M. (1989). Advertising/photojournalism/cinema: The shifting rhetoric of forties female
representation. Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 11, 121.
Schudson, M. (1986). Advertising, the uneasy persuasion. New York: Basic Books.
Schudson, M. (1989). How culture works. Theory and Society, 18, 153180.
Sethi, P. (1987). Advocacy advertising. International Journal of Advertising, 6, 279298.
Simpson, D. (1992, March 9). Sexist adverts insult us, say men. Press Association Newsfile, newswire
report.
Squires, C. (1992). Violence at Benetton. Artforum, 30, 1819.
Trescott, J. (1991, August 10). Benetton ads: Clashing colors. Washington Post, p. C1.
Vardar, N. (1992). Global advertising: Rhyme or reason? London: Paul Chapman.
White, L. (1992, February 16). Blood, sweaters and designer tears. Sunday Times, pp. B2B3.
Williamson, J. (1978). Decoding advertising: Ideology and meaning in advertising. London: Marion
Boyars.