WE on the death row


Since 1989, Benetton officially adopted the trademark, "United Colors of Benetton," initiating and formalizing more than ten years strategy to radically transform the face of conventional advertising. In place of the product, Benetton presented powerful and problematic visual images of social issues of universal importance such as environmental disasters, peace, AIDS, terrorism, murder, tolerance of diversity and struggle against racism.
Benetton’s advertising campaigns and social communication strategies are a clear echo of contemporary culture and society. Benetton’s United Colors Campaign transformed the traditional notions of advertising, so that the goal is no longer to simply sell their products, the brand name or to create a desire. Instead, their campaigns promote social concerns, critiques and ideologies.
Since Oliviero Toscani, photographer and creative director of Benetton advertising, arrived to the company, controversy has accompanied every campaign. Since then, campaigns have been based on photographs and journals. The use of crisis-torn images for commercials ends is what causes disturb to audiences, but has allowed Toscani to use a commercial medium for humanitarian ends.
Because of the mentioned above, Benetton moreover than being just a clothing store, has become into a social entity. Where it’s not only having a relationship with people because of fashion, but also has established relationship through sports (basketball, rugby, volleyball, and cars), and social concerns around the world.
“We, On Death Row” is a $20 million project. Created by Benetton in association with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the international death penalty abolitionist group, Rome- based Hands Off Cain. The campaign contains 26 photographs of people on death row with their names, ages and execution day over the words “sentenced to death”. This campaign has already appeared in the Talk magazine with a special 100 pages brochure along with interviews (innocent interviews) made by the journalist Ken Schulman (a collaborator of the Newsweek magazine). This pictures has also appear on billboards, posters, newspapers and obviously available in the Benetton web page.
There have been a great variety of reactions and opinions regarding these images. And because of this it is important to mention the positive and negative aspects about the campaign, establishing it in a global perspective (not with an American perspective). I am analyzing the campaign in a global perspective, because it is not a campaign targeted only to the U.S. public. It is a campaign designed to target people throughout the world. And even though the campaign was “produced” in the U.S., the U.S market is not the only one and even more it is not the principal market.


· First of all it is important to mention that the reaction has occur only in some places, specially the death penalty states. In other places is little noticed (like for example Washington state).
This kind of reaction it is mainly a reaction in the U.S. because for example Italians, longtime opponents of the death penalty, increasingly are crusading against its use abroad. Over the coming year, Rome\'s colosseum is to be lighten up for 48 hours every time a death sentence is suspended anywhere in the world or a country abolishes the death penalty.
· The arguments in favor of capital punishment center around: “an eye for an eye”. What kind of argument is this? “The campaign is about the death penalty. Leaving aside any social, political or moral consideration, this project aims at showing to the public the reality of capital punishment” (Benetton, Looking). The real goal of the campaign is to " put a human face on individuals this country is looking to execute and to create a dialog on the issue of punishment, regardless of the crime the individual committed," Speedy Rice a professor of law at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., who served as NACDL\'s point man on the project and coordinated the visits with corrections officials, inmates, and their lawyers explained. "This isn\'t intended as a slight to the victims or families. We just wanted to focus on the punishment." It is difficult to me to understand what is the real conflict in the people who disagree on the campaign. But the only answer I can put to this is that only here, in the U.S. people feel threaten by having the pictures