‘Suicidal’ Advertising or not?
John Paul Mifsud- MKT 762: Integrated Marketing Communications This advert was first issued in March 2007 edition of ‘Esquire’ magazine (Spain). Later it was published in the fashion magazine in Italy. Pressure groups such as feminist movements, politicians both from Spain and Italy and the global media in general commented harshly on this advert. They claimed that this advert was triggering the notion of gang rape and violence as socially acceptable. After a few months from issue, D&G had no other option than to remove this advert from the market.
At face value this advert shows a man holding a woman to the ground by her wrists while a group of men look on. According to Stefano Gabbana (as cited in www.hammeruncut.com) the idea of the advert was not to demean women and instigate rape, sexual abuse or violence but rather "recall an erotic dream, a sexual game"
Whipple (1992) argues that the depiction of sex and women as sexual objects has been employed for decades as a marketing tool. In view of this one might argue why is this advert so unusual? Is it just one of the many adverts dehumanizing women? I am of the opinion that the team of photographers, designers and market strategists that created this advert managed to use a traditional marketing tool (sex) in an unusual way. What makes this advert innovative is the fact that the company took the notion of sex to an extreme. They molded this controversial theme to fit within their marketing objectives. Moreover, D&G used the notion of rape, which is socially unacceptable in most of the countries today, in an attempt to strengthen their brand image. Its not abut the content per se but the presentation. As we shall see later, this advert is targeting a particular audience with subliminal messages. The advert goes overboard by crossing the ethical and moral boundaries. Given that rape is obscene, why would D&G create such a shocking campaign associating the brand with something negative? Was it a failed attempt to be edgy and eccentric at the expense of harming their image?
The advert is not driven by sales oriented objectives of increasing immediate sales as it does not specify any particular D&G product, price or promotional offer. The image gives the idea of fashion in general. The direct objective of this advert was to launch the Spring-Summer 2007 ready to wear collection. Furthermore, one can claim that the advert’s main purpose was of communicating the brand at subconscious level.
Steve Hall (2007) in Dolce & Gabbana Ad: Cartoonish Edginess or Gang Rape? claims: “… [The] ad certainly paints a questionable picture... [that]…does not need perpetuating. Others might argue the ad …is so over-the-top cartoonish in its desire to be "edgy," that it's a harmless toss off passed over as one glosses through the fake world of fashion magazines.”
I believe that this advert goes beyond the notion of communicating egocentric controversial art (fashion). As noted by Belch & Belch (2009.122) “advertisers know consumers use selective perception to filter out irrelevant or unwanted advertising message, so they employ various creative tactics to get their messaged noticed”. D&G marketers used creative tactics to get their message noticed. As one can notice they superimposed the company name in a big font in the middle of the scene to grab the...