Diesel and Benetton AdvertisingTerm Paper

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Diesel/Benetton

Diesel vs. Benetton -- the selling of an image (which may require purchasing some expensive clothing to achieve)

On a purely functional level, clothing is a basic necessity, just like food and shelter. But very much like these commodities, clothing can command a diverse range of prices, based upon the clothing's brand, reputation, quality, and above all style. Diesel and Benetton are two clothing companies that have used edgy, trend-setting advertising and brand images to draw the eyes and dollars of the highly coveted teen and twentysomething crowd. These consumers spend a great deal of money on fashion, follow trends (and thus revise their wardrobes a great deal) and may be willing to spend a hundred dollars or more for a label, based upon what it may convey about their identity.

Thus, the research question, when examining the success of these two companies is both simple and profound, like so much of the advertising deployed by these two clothing manufacturers -- in short, how does one convince a consumer to spend in excess of a hundred dollars on a garment that might cost twenty or thirty dollars at the local mall or Wal-Mart? The answer is image.

Diesel: Company history and brand overview

Diesel is a type of fuel, and the fuel that propels this trendy Italian-based company is the creative talent of its founder Renzo Rosso. "When Renzo Rosso founded the company in 1978, he wanted it to be a leader, a company which took chances and carved out a niche for itself in its field. He surrounded himself with creative, talented people -- innovators who...rejected the slavish trend-following typical of the fashion industry." ("History and Background of Diesel," 2006) At least according to Rosso, Rosso created clothes that he would like to wear, not what he believed that consumers wanted to buy. He attempted to use his marketing to shape future trends, rather than follow trends. His ads were artistic rather than openly commercial in their focus, and looked more like works of art rather than photographs purveying a product. His gamble paid off, and in 1996, Renzo Rosso and Diesel received the "Premio Risultati" award from the Bocconi Institute in Milan for being the "best Italian company of the year." This was an extraordinary honor for a company mainly known for creating jeans and watches and casual wear, rather than the couture previously coveted by the institute. Then, with a nod to his American business savvy, Renzo Rosso was also honored by the American firm of Ernst & Young as the "entrepreneur of the year" of 1997 for the company's commercial dominance in the United States market. ("Renzo Rosso: Interview," Design Boom, 2002)

However, Rosso has said that although Diesel doesn't "outsell Levis in terms of quantity," competing with such a firm is not one of his hopes "because I've never thought of being a company that produces large volumes. I've always wanted to create a cool company." ("Renzo Rosso: Interview," Design Boom, 2002) Diesel is considered cool -- and that is why it has commanded such high prices from consumers, because they wish to buy into its image of cool. Simply wearing a pair of Diesel jeans is considered a statement, and that is what Rosso wants. "From the very beginning, Diesel's design team turned their backs on the style-dictators and consumer forecasters of the fashion establishment and let their own tastes lead them. It is for this reason that Diesel immediately became a leader in developing styles, fabrics, manufacturing methods and quality control, guaranteeing an outstanding quality product. The company views the world as a single, border-less macro-culture." ("History and Background of Diesel," 2006) On the Diesel Company's official website, the naked torso of a man in jeans cavorts with a scantily clad woman. Both young, strapping figures have wings like angels. The texture of the website background is like a pair of black, stonewashed Diesel jeans. It is as if the jean-clad figures are in a world that looks like a pair of Diesel jeans, and they embody the free, sexual, yet cool and dark spirit of Diesel. (Diesel Official Website, 2006)

Benetton: Company history and brand overview

While Diesel attempts to create a 'macro culture of cool' that is unifying, Benetton has created a corporate image founded on an image of eye-catching racial diversity, an brand that is unafraid to confront controversial issues, and what can only be described as quirkiness, rather than 'cool.' Like Diesel, Benetton is an upscale clothing marketer based in Italy. But instead of the brooding colors of Diesel, and its abstract images that only tangentially relate to denim or the other products the company sells, Bennetton's website is fittingly colorful, given that the company name is "The United Colors of Benetton." The forty-year-old company proclaims: "The company's philosophy has always been rooted in an informed consumerism, its aesthetic ambitions calculated to evoke a utopian rainbow at the end of a storm. Benetton's futurist hopes recall the philosophical aims of the Bauhaus and De Stijl artists, who felt design could unite the world via an international visual language." (40 Years Press Release, Benetton, 2006) In short, Benetton sees itself as more than a company, even more than an image of quality and cool, like Diesel, it sees itself as part of a design and social philosophy, creating a vision of the future. Hence, the socially conscious emphasis of its marketing -- by portraying images of racial diversity Benetton seeks to change consumer minds about issues as well as what to wear.

The company was born during the heady, idealistic days of 1965. Just the bright colors of Pucci and the hip youthful styles of the latest miniskirts were making a revolution in the way people viewed fashion; Benetton opened its first store in 1969. The bright colors that characterized the line during the 1970s proved popular, and paved the way for the company's expansion in the 1980s. The first company image was more preppy and clean-cut, although always healthy, youthful, and future-focused. However, Benetton really honed its unique image in the mid-80s, with edgy, colorful ads using models from a diversity of backgrounds, countries and cultures, some of which did not even feature the clothing itself, merely the brand. Benetton featured couples of different races, persons from tribes in areas of the world that had never seen a store, much less a pair of Benetton jeans, and the ads often seemed just as intent upon raising awareness as it did upon informing the consumer what the Benetton style was all about.

Analysis of advertising: similarities or differences?

Both Diesel and Benetton have deployed the technique of brand-based, rather than commodity-based advertising. In short, when Levis, to take Rosso's contrasting example of the brand that Diesel is quintessentially 'not,' advertises its jeans, the focus of the ad is the jeans, or the commodity itself, usually worn by an attractive model. However, both Diesel and Benetton's ads tend to de-emphasize the product. Image is all. For example, Diesel ads are often abstract, and even when the models are wearing Diesel products, the consumer's eye would not necessarily be drawn to the jeans first and foremost. The attractive nature of the model and the brooding quality of the dark ad that is currently on the website creates a mood, rather than focuses on the jeans. However, the hope is, in looking at the advertisement, the consumer wishes to become a part of the Diesel world, and to wear Diesel jeans as a result. The object is not simply to get the consumer to wear a new pair of Diesel jeans but to become a 'Diesel type' consumer who wants to wear the Diesel corporate logo on the back of his or her clothing, wear Diesel watches and accessories, and become part of the Diesel ethos. This is why people pay so much for Diesel jeans -- to say to the world that they are a Diesel type person, not someone who cares so little about their wardrobe that a pair of Levis will do. The brand is meant to breathe sensuality and quality but without a self-consciously projected sexuality -- the sexuality, like the models of the ad that only have eyes for one another, is simply there, and does not need to be overstated. Nor does the consumer need to be oversold on the brand.

The United Colors of Benetton, in contrast, has an almost 'anti-ad' campaign. The purpose of the advertisements seems to simply remind the viewer of the name of the company, and to connect the company to awareness about the need for racial tolerance, diversity, sexual tolerance, or other controversial topics that are likely to resonate in the mind of the target consumer. The implied purpose of the ad is to create a positive feeling about the company by highlighting its social concern -- by buying Benetton one is investing in a good company, and showing that one is a 'Benetton' type person, part of a global… [END OF PREVIEW]

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