02 May 2000

Italian-based clothing manufacturer Benetton has parted company with its advertising chief Oliviero Toscani – the adman whose provocative campaigns arguably put Benetton on the global fashion map. Despite a string of previous controversial ads (including an Aids victim at the moment of death and the bloodstained clothes of a dead Bosnian Soldier).
Toscani’s undoing was almost certainly his most recent ‘Death Row’ campaign featuring criminals condemned to die under the United States penal code – a bridge too far not only with those who believe that advertising should adhere to accepted standards of public taste but, more significantly, with US retail giants sensitive to what they perceived as European criticism of America’s capital punishment policy.
Toscani is unrepentant: “It’s good to have the courage to end something that has been fantastic and still have the enthusiasm to take on new projects”, he said. Benetton ads will now be handled by Fabrica, the group’s communications centre.

Sunday Business [30-Apr-00]