fashion brand's controversial new campaign and the long history of 'shockvertising'
Credit: Balenciaga

Kim Kardashian is refining her personal brand. Right-wing news outlet Fox TV is gaining viewers through attention-grabbing headlines. Photographer Gabriele Galimberti is gaining notoriety. All this is due to a recent advertising campaign from leading global fashion brand Balenciaga that has caused widespread controversy.

One photograph shows a child in a string vest holding a bondage gear-clad teddy bear. Another shows a handbag resting on paperwork about child abuse. Balenciaga responded to the backlash to its campaign by issuing an apology that blamed the set designers and photographers for the uncomfortable messages. It has also filed a US$25 million lawsuit against the campaign’s producers.

As an expert in branding who has worked in advertising for over 25 years, I am wary of Balenciaga’s responses. All major brands have people in place to approve these types of advertising campaigns. The approval process would be especially comprehensive for a brand like Balenciaga, which spends around US$100 million a year on publicity.

Advertising is, of course, designed to get attention. According to the University of Southern California, urban consumers see more than 5,000 advertising messages a day but remember only three or four. Brands invest a lot of money with the goal of becoming one of those memorable ads.

One technique used to achieve that goal is “shockvertising”—an advert that “deliberately, rather than inadvertently, startles and offends its audience by violating norms for social values and personal ideals”. Fashion brands such as Benetton, Calvin Klein and FCUK have all created shocking ads resulting in free media coverage that benefited the brand and those associated with it.

A history of successful fashion shockvertising

From the 1970s through to the early 2000s, Italian clothing brand Benetton created simple photographic adverts that featured controversial topics. A priest and a nun kissing. A black woman nursing a white baby. A man dying of Aids surrounded by his family.

These adverts, placed in popular magazines and on billboards, were designed to attract attention. The dying man imagery, for example, was published as news broke that Aids had become the leading cause of death for young men in the US. The campaign’s creator Oliviero Toscani became world famous and Benetton an even more popular global brand, although it later severed ties with the photographer.

In the early 2000s, French Connection launched a campaign around the acronym FCUK (French Connection United Kingdom). Its slogan “FCUKinkyBugger” caused Britain’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), to respond to 132 complaints from the public. French Connection reacted by putting the sign “Sorry FCUK” in its store windows, attracting even more young consumers to their high street stops and increasing sales from £6.4 million to £19m.


Brooke Shields reflects on her controversial Calvin Klein campaign.

In 1980, Calvin Klein released adverts featuring the very young supermodel Brooke Shields modeling the brand’s jeans while saying: “Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”

The print and TV ads placed the 15-year-old in sexually provocative positions and caused an uproar with the public. In the US, ABC network stations banned the TV commercial. However, due to the controversy, Calvin Klein boosted sales and Brooke Shields’ career took off. She has since appeared on over 300 magazine covers internationally and starred in Hollywood films.

Who benefits from shockvertising?

As these examples demonstrate, people associated with a shockvertising campaign can take advantage of the news it generates to further their own interests.

Kardashian, who has been something of a muse for Balenciaga in recent years, published a reaction on her Instagram to the controversial campaign. This allowed her fanbase to voice their opinions on the matter, an example of Kardashian using controversy to build up her personal brand.

Galimberti, who photographed some of the most controversial images in the Balenciaga campaign, stated: “I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to … choose the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.” He has since given several interviews to mainstream media, bringing his name to an even bigger audience and, potentially, the opportunity to gain new clients.

Balenciaga did not respond to our request for comment on whether the campaign may have intentionally courted press coverage. The brand’s creative director Demna Gvasalia, however, issued a public statement on December 2 taking personal responsibility for the campaign.

“As much as I would sometimes like to provoke a thought through my work, I would NEVER have an intention to do that with such an awful subject as child abuse that I condemn,” he told his Instagram followers. “It was inappropriate to have kids promote objects that had nothing to do with them.”

Shockvertising strategies allow adverts to be seen by millions of potential consumers despite being aired for only a limited amount of time before being taken down. As the current Balenciaga controversy demonstrates, the way to make paid advertising work harder is to get it talked about for free.

Provided by The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Citation: Fashion brand’s controversial new campaign and the long history of ‘shockvertising’ (2022, December 5) retrieved 5 December 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-12-fashion-brand-controversial-campaign-history.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

TECH NEWS RELATED

TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

TikTok is one of the most popular social networks out there. But TikTok is also a cause of concern for western governments that worry about the company’s ties to the Chinese government. TikTok can’t run on most devices the US government issues, and there has been talk of a ...

View more: TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

Don’t Buy a Foldable Until Samsung Brings This Prototype to Life

Samsung Display via The Verge The world of foldable phones is surprisingly stagnant. The Galaxy Z Fold gets a tiny little upgrade every year, and rival phone brands loosely copy Samsung’s homework. But a new Samsung Display prototype called the “Flex In & Out” could turn this narrative on ...

View more: Don’t Buy a Foldable Until Samsung Brings This Prototype to Life

Best free sports streaming apps in 2023

Cutting the cord on cable television is something tons of people have done over the past five years. But that hasn’t proven to be the smartest way to continue to watch sports. Whether it comes from premium sports website subscriptions to keep tabs on your favorite players, or even fantasy ...

View more: Best free sports streaming apps in 2023

Avengers 5 might have Ant-Man in it, Quantumania star teases

The first MCU Phase 5 movie will be Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third installment in the Ant-Man franchise and a film with much higher stakes than the previous episodes. The sequel will deliver the MCU’s first Kang (Jonathan Majors) villain after we met a somewhat good He Who ...

View more: Avengers 5 might have Ant-Man in it, Quantumania star teases

Sharing a Netflix Account? Get Ready to Pay For It

DANIEL CONSTANTE/Shutterstock.com Netflix is about to get serious in its efforts to eliminate freeloaders. If you share a Netflix account with family or friends outside your household, get ready to pay for it. A new “paid sharing” system could roll out starting next month, and you’ll have to pay a ...

View more: Sharing a Netflix Account? Get Ready to Pay For It

‘7 Wonders’ Board Game Gets a New ‘Edifice’ Expansion

Asmodee and Repos Production Board game lovers have a wonderful reason to celebrate today. Board game makers Asmodee and Repos Production announced their latest collaboration: 7 Wonders Edifice, an expansion to the popular board game 7 Wonders. The game launches on February 24th for $29.99. 7 Wonders: Edifice adds ...

View more: ‘7 Wonders’ Board Game Gets a New ‘Edifice’ Expansion

T-Mobile Kicks Off 2023 With Another Data Breach

r.classen / Shutterstock.com In a press release, T-Mobile confirms that it detected a data breach in its systems on January 5th. A “bad actor” managed to steal personal information (but not financial data) from around 37 million customers. This is the eighth T-Mobile data breach since 2018. The hacker ...

View more: T-Mobile Kicks Off 2023 With Another Data Breach

Apple appeals to UK competition watchdog investigation about mobile browser dominance

Apple has filed an appeal against the UK’s competition watchdog regarding its dominance of mobile browsers in the cloud gaming market, reports Reuters. The Competition and Markets Authority started investigating this dominance by the Cupertino firm and Google. Lawyers representing Apple believe the investigation should be reviewed as CMA ...

View more: Apple appeals to UK competition watchdog investigation about mobile browser dominance

Galaxy S23 Ultra release date and specs leak finally reveals everything about the new model

WhatsApp for iOS rolling out the ability to create a chat with yourself

Amazon Prime Music Unlimited changes streaming prices, now matches Apple Music

Deadpool 3 and Secret Wars to feature Fox’s X-Men, according to Marvel insider

Report: OLED iPad Pro still on track for 2024 release, 2026 for MacBook Pro

How to negotiate over practically anything

HomePod 2 praised in exclusive hands-on before launch

M2 Pro MacBook Pro Amazon preorder deal gives you $50 off

What “choice” means for millions of women post-Roe

Singapore FinTech firm Pilon secures $5.2M seed funding led by Wavemaker Partners

Capital Square Partners and Basil Technology team up for $700M tech fund in Asia

This feel-good movie about man’s best friend is dominating Netflix

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News