A cultural question to you as internationals…

Actually I wanted to discuss the cultural aspects of Sex Sells later on. But due to the fact that it was so obvious in our Benetton presentation today I have to state it now:

“There is a difference in cultural feelings towards Sex Sells Strategies!!!”

And the Benetton case revealed that once more.
Some of you were more than shocked by the company’s ads we showed you today. Some of you found them disgusting. And some of you just said afterwards (Not to cite someone particularly, but yes:-)) “What was so bad about the ad with the two horses? I just think it’s funny”


Yes, what was so bad? In the case of this blog I only want to refer on the sexual issues: So what is bad about the “Genitals of different coloured people” or the “Coloured Condoms Campaign” or the “Two Horses”?

Don’t get me wrong here, as I definitely cannot say that we are used to these ads in Europe. Not used to, but we are not shocked…

I’m sorry but I have to ask you again:

“As a citizen of your home country, as an international student  – How did you feel watching these ads???

Unbenannt2Someone said: “I have never heard of Benetton before” and one of you stated:
“It’s disgusting. I would never shop at a Benetton store.” So here Sex Sells definitely didn´t work…

I have to admit that I wear Benetton clothes since I have been four years old. In Germany and also in Europe the company is an institution. So noone will ask you ” What is Benetton? Is that something about cigarettes?”:-)

It’s the other way round. One of my best friends is a big fan of the brand and she wears the clothes not only because she likes the colours but because she identifies with the sociocritical, political background. She feels these issues have to be discussed to solve them.


And honestly, I´m not joking:  She now started working as a CSR responsible for a big auditing firm at home. And… which is probably not a circumstance she has her own small organization to help Tsunami orphans, as she was in Sri Lanka when the catastrophe happened. Just have a look at: Human Helps Human e.V.

“Hey Rieke, I had to mention you here!!! Maybe you as well want to join the discussion…



Filed under Communications, Marketing, PR

5 responses to “A cultural question to you as internationals…

  1. I agree that there are certainly cultural differences between what we think is “acceptable” and “not acceptable.” In Europe, I have seen much more sexuality used in advertising, however in the USA they often promote violent imagery (in video games, or in movies) that would be considered unacceptable to other cultures. It might be a matter of personal taste, but I think its also a matter of cultural socialization.

  2. kellisa26

    Culture does play a significant role in our beliefs and how we view the never ending messages that bombard us on a daily basis.
    Coming from Barbados, (we are not seperated from church and state) there is no way 20 years ago or even today these ads could be shown in print or as a store display.
    I believe it comes down to personal taste. As the “melting pot” grows and we are exposed to new cultures/ideas/beliefs, we do not necessarily discard our beliefs, but are able to view these messages with an open mind.

    I do not understand some of the images Toscani chose to use. To me some of them are clear cut and but some seem to be pointless. What’s the message in the geintalia ad??? – I guess in the end it really does come down to perception.

    • prcreativity

      I disagree that it comes down to perception in the end – esepcially in reference to this Benetton case study.
      The reason for not understanding and missing the point of some of the images Toscani used i.e the genitalia ad, may be because you are mirroring your own cultural sensitivites. Like you said, “there is no way 20 years ago or even today these ads could be shown in print or as a store display [in Barbados]”.
      When all the “shocking” Benetton images were displayed in the presentation the other day, I have to say that I didn’t even notice the add with all the genitals lined up “Brady Bunch-style”, someone pointed it out to me. This, I believe, is due to my own cultural upbringing. Shock advertising is used quite a bit these days in Australia, and it has led many people to become complacent about “shocking” images.
      In my opinion, Toscani’s genital ad makes a very pointed statement – that we come in all shapes and sizes!

      • Mel

        But the point is: does this provoking ad bring the desired result to benetton? Does everybody get the whole purpose of this advert? Or are we just overwhelmed of the flood of (sexual) ads? Especially in Europe or Australia?
        Doesn’t it also work without a sexual note? For this let’s look at an ad of Germany: Sixt is a car renting company and is famous for its humorous and critical ads. For example: http://static.rp-online.de/layout/fotos/457×325/46643-u_schmidt_print_1_900.jpg
        Ulla Schmidt, a political woman in Germany, is accused that she had used her office car for privat purpose. The ad says: “Promised. Next time I’ll be renting at sixt.”
        That’s humor and critisicm. I like this more as watching genitals.

  3. If these ads were shown to me when I was at a younger age ( say nine years ago) then maybe I would feel somewhat offended but because I am now living in a less conservative (laid back) country then I have adjusted my censorship. It does however cross the boundaries of being artistic, creative and opportunistic. “selling -sex- strategies” will still be a very sensitive topic in asia others might even call it a ‘taboo’ in the advertising industry. Who knows in the next few years some creative guru can break and change cultural barriers in hopes to bridge ” colors and sizes” of all mankind.

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