Letter: Serious messages in Benetton ads

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The Independent Online
Sir: We are dismayed at the reaction caused by the picture we placed in your paper last Saturday. Our intention was to register our disapproval, as a multinational, of the ecological disaster in the Shetlands.

The picture of the bird had already been used in our September campaign. It was taken during the Gulf war, yet by adding 'Shetlands Isles, January 1993' on it, it has become tragically topical. The image was originally meant to be a plea for more caution and is now intended to be a reminder that animals are again the victims of human error and that our wellbeing comes at an exceedingly high price.

It is extraordinary that Benetton, one of the very few companies that has devoted its advertising budget to communicate on issues of global concern instead of making self-serving product claims, gets accused of cynicism because it does not do more.

Up to 30 per cent of most charities' budgets go into communication. Giving global problems a platform in more than 100 countries is doing something about them. We believe communication is more effective than cash hand- outs (and more expensive, incidentally) and hope that as more and more people understand our position and the urgency of these issues, we will become a vehicle for discussion and not its focus.

Yours faithfully,


Benetton Communications


Ponzano Veneto, Italy

12 January