Known for its provocative – and sometimes shocking – advertising around social issues, United Colors of Benetton has rolled out a new global campaign in partnership with the United Nations Women, depicting a woman being "stoned" with flowers.
The campaign, created by Fabrica, launched Tuesday (the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women). It includes a TV spot, online videos, print and social media. The campaign is focused on engaging young people and represents a departure from the brand’s signature shock advertising, which in the past has included world leaders kissing and a guerrilla soldier holding a human bone.
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness to gender inequality around the world and violence against women, playing on the adage, "do not hit, even with flowers."
Benetton’s Unhate Foundation, its social causes arm, has also rolled out a new digital platform to target and engage young people. Unhatenews.com, created in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Public Information, aims to get young people to engage with topics around social justice by enabling them to produce and upload news stories on subjects including social justice, the environment, human rights, terrorism and democracy.
The 10 most popular submissions will be turned into projects next year.
Speaking to Campaign about the push, Cuban artist and creative director Eric Ravelo, creative director at Fabrica, said the idea behind the campaign wanted to take something that represented violence and turn it into something "poetic" and "beautiful."
"We wanted to deliver more of a positive message than a shocking message — we wanted the work to be a celebration of women — we are trying to involve and engage people with the emotion," he said.
"We are using a very strong contemporary iconography of violence and trying to use that so people can relate to the campaign. But we didn’t want to end it in the wrong way, and so we turned it into something beautiful."
While United Colors of Benetton has focused on social issues for its campaign, the movement in purpose-driven advertising is gaining traction, as brands are doing good as more than a CSR bolt-on, and more of a business imperative.
Ravelo said that social causes are part of the brand’s DNA. "This campaign is not trying to do something trendy but make a strong statement about a very important problem that is worldwide.
"Many people are jumping into it, but it brings into a very competitive market a little bit of humanity," he said. "It creates conscience in communications that may help people."