The Fall of the Colors of Benetton

The Financial Times reports that Italian fashion house Benetton will be going private, amidst a spectacular failure of its latest shock advertising campaign. Investors are not particularly enthused about the once high-flying fashion house, and the shock advertising campaigns have failed (not only there), generating not buzz but outrage and threats and loss of sales. The Fall of the Colors of Benetton is the result of a changing market, namely declining numbers of young Western women wanting “shock” and able to pay for it, with growth occurring mostly in very conservative Asia, not the West. The baby bust in the West is killing the appetite for naughty-shock campaigns, and could well kick the financial underpinnings out of one of the major sources of cultural rot: the fashion industry.

The latest scandal involving Benetton was a photoshopped picture of Pope Benedict kissing Mohammed Ahmed al-Tayeb the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al Azhar mosque. Predictably, Catholics were not amused, and Muslims threatened to kill lots of people. The campaign was pulled, and groveling apologies commenced. But this about-face only served to highlight Benetton’s weakness.

The company grew, by franchising. Which did not require lots of capital but gave up control. The company focused on managing the franchisees, not the merchandise. Benetton lacked global control, consistency, and the ability to move merchandise in and out of stores in response to increasingly more rapid changes in fashion. By contrast, Inditex (Zara) and H&M own their own shops, and follow the Apple Store model. Zara boasts it can take a new product to stores in two weeks, Benetton like most of the industry takes six months.

Benetton is not alone. Urban Outfitters learnt that lesson with their racy campaign featuring underage models in a Lesbian kiss. A Mother’s boycott soon emerged, and given tight consumer budgets and decreasing not increasing consumer spending, Urban Outfitters is already seeing an impact.

Female fashion is not the 1980’s, with lots of teen girls with lots of money to spend seeking to outrage and shock to generate attention. There are a lot fewer (White) female teens with money, and the money they have comes mostly from Mom. Who is not too keen on attention-whoring (as the phrase goes). Moreover, the internet has pushed young White female fashionistas towards “value” seeking lower-cost but more unique looks. Uniqlo and others are pushing this, offering new fabrics and materials, at lower costs. The fashion industry still pushes girls and women to buy newer stuff, that no one else has, but the selling line is value and uniqueness of the clothes, rather than the shock value of the advertising campaign. Planned new products include color-changing clothes, improved anti-wrinkling, and other new technology that is proprietary to various lines allowing a higher price than rivals. Uniqueness based on value not shock. With the selling experience carefully controlled by a top-down global merchandising hierarchy.

With a larger population, girls and women sought to stand out in the 1980’s. To provoke, generate attention, be unique among the large swath of the youth population. The famous advertising campaign of the Colors of Benetton, which featured happy, multicultural/multiracial models and “shock” campaigns no longer works. Not only has the internet made the most shocking images available to anyone interested, the culture has moved so far to the left that there is no more shock left. When the most popular youth show “Glee” (highest ratings for teen females) features two underage male characters in a gay kiss, on Primetime on Broadcast TV on America’s #2 or #3 Network (depending on how you count), there is not much shock left. Meanwhile, a smaller White teen female population makes fitting in rather than standing out more socially rewarding. Given that “attention must be paid” (apologies to Willy Loman and Arthur Miller) since there are so few of them now anyway. Solidarity with a few peers rather than standing out from a crowd is what pays off socially.

Besides, girls are not working retail anymore. Since retail jobs have fallen dramatically given the internet and automation and sharp declines in consumer spending in the West, teen girls are not earning clothes money in the mall which they then spend. Instead, they get a tightly budgeted amount by Mom. Who as the one who pays, has final approval. And despite all the gay-friendly hoopla, most Moms want grandchildren, not say, a Lesbian partner with adopted African children as Hillary Rosen and her partner below:

This won’t be a sea-change. A female-oriented media will still move inexorably ever farther leftward, that is the nature of things. But, and this is important, it will move leftward at a slower pace. Like the rains and mud that slowed Hitler’s advance on Moscow in October 1941, the Fall of the Colors of Benetton, and the change in young women’s fashion from shock to value, is something. It slows the storm-troopers of cultural change down, to the point where natural forces (Moms want their own grand-kids, not some adopted African baby no matter how trendy it is for Madonna, Charlize Theron, and Angelina Jolie) take over. “Bruno,” the movie from Sasha Baron Cohen, was funny because normal people find adopting an African baby because its trendy (and trading an Ipod Red for him) to be appalling.

And that, is something. A bit of good news amidst the bad.

About whiskeysplace

Conservative blogger focusing on culture, business, technology, and how they intersect.
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24 Responses to The Fall of the Colors of Benetton

  1. collapse please says:

    What a world of shit.

  2. Is Benneton even relevant anymore? I have not seen one of their shops in a while. Now that you mention it I have to rent ‘Bruno’ (and maybe Borat too).

  3. I meant ‘Benetton’

  4. sydney carton says:

    Whiskey, if the left is now stalled before Moscow please tell me where the counter attack will come from, or the strength to ultimately launch an operation bagraton?

    More like the right is France and its june 1940. Conservatism has been utterly crushed without a fight. And there ain’t gonna be a liberation this time, demographics assure that.

    A world of shit indeed. We are now entering boot on the human face forever territory.

    • The counter-attack will come from vastly conservative Chinese princelings who don’t like their relatives getting murdered at places like USC, by Black thugs. And have power and money to back it up. Also by lots and lots of would-be upper class liberals getting downsized into Hillbilly status. Machiavelli advised it was better to kill a man than to make him poor.

      Obama and liberals made millions poorer.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t you know anything? It was GEORGE W BUSH that made everybody poor

      • superdestroyer says:

        But President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have continued the trend of making more poor people. Virtually everything that the government is going is to produce more poor people and shrink the middle class.

        As the U.S. becomes a country of elites, care givers, and a large underclass, the only way to be middle class will be as a government employee.

  5. Contrary says:

    As for shock campaigns no longer working, I don’t think we have seen anything yet. Don’t underestimate the liberal mind.

  6. Hard Right says:

    Why would teenaged girls purchase expensive clothing when they can camwhore for free?

  7. Retrenched says:

    Hey Whiskey, you may have already heard this but you’re quoted in the SMH:

    “Many will readily share a bed with the sporty, attractive, confident men, while ordinary men miss out. As Whiskey puts it at whiskeysplace.wordpress.com: ”Joe Average Beta Male is about as desirable to women as a cold bowl of oatmeal.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/why-women-lose-the-dating-game-20120421-1xdn0.html

  8. Hadrian says:

    Whiskey, this is somewhat OT, but I would love to see you post about the grotesque degeneration of the TV series Spartacus, from Season 1 to Season 2. Season 1 was a low-rent 300, a digitized boys comic that still upheld the classical heroic values and celebrated bravery and heroism. Season 2 is True Blood in loincloths, full of multicultural grrl power slaves kicking ass and castrating evil white men. The rebel men are now blubbering simps pining for their girlfriends, while the Roman guys are p*ssified sadists manipulated by the various ladies of the house. In the second most disgusting moment I have ever seen on TV (the first was a similar scene from True Blood), a major female character, in front of her husband, stabs and slits the throat of a servant girl, spraying blood all over him and the room. They then get so sexually excited that they copulate against a wall in a “poetic” shot in which the servant girl’s corpse floats dead in the foreground. Many of these shows are, of course, written by women. What do you think happened, and what does this mean?

    • SOBL1 says:

      Good suggestion. I liked season one for the throwback feel it had to 80s action style movies with boobs, blood and macho fight ethos.

    • asdf says:

      You really want to get two glasses of wine deep before you watch Spartacus. It’s quite enjoyable after that.

      P.S. The replacement Spartacus sucks compared to the original actor. This is a problem for me.

    • I had not seen that show, generally I avoid anything pay cable because its so female oriented. Icky, violent sex (there’s one in True Blood where a vampire sort of but not really kills a female vampire while screwing her, maybe that was the one you were thinking about) is a specialty of this stuff. Like you say, written by and for women.

      Its decadence, mixed with the ugly nature of female empowerment. Raise women up to the level of most men, and the nice, romantic gestures that used to bring great joy (because most men were just a smidgen upwards in social status) now bring disgust. So women audiences and writers seek ever greater stimulation, including the violence one. Plus of course the elimination of the “inferior” female like the modern day babysitter. Who just by existing poses a threat to the sole access to the dominant male.

      That stuff is a symptom of the awfulness of today’s entertainment, which in turn reflects the barren-ness of female empowerment. Which for most women is sexual starvation followed by binge/purging on male domination.

  9. Anon says:

    This is off topic but:
    ‘As Whiskey puts it at whiskeysplace.wordpress.com: ”Joe Average Beta Male is about as desirable to women as a cold bowl of oatmeal.”’

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/why-women-lose-the-dating-game-20120421-1xdn0.html

  10. Dan says:

    “Whiskey, if the left is now stalled before Moscow please tell me where the counter attack will come from, or the strength to ultimately launch an operation bagraton?”

    I think a better example is “War of the Worlds.” The Martians were not beaten in battle. They just were maladapted for their own survival.

    Think about War of the Worlds: You have this situation of seemingly total domination, where every head-on battle seems to be lost. Viewed from one standpoint, it just seems to get worse and worse for right-thinking people. And yet we scarcely appreciate how violently ill leftward groups and subgroups have become simply by soaking in their own culture.

    Some of the symptoms of illness:
    1 – far lower levels of happiness by those on the left
    2 – much lower fertility by those without spiritual values
    3 – outright national decline among nations that swallow leftism

    Leftism is rebellion. It is by definition a counterpoint, defined by what it is against rather than being something itself. If it actually wins, it brings its own destruction.

    Conservativism is dull and boring because it is the old, successful formula for life. Rebel against all of that and you have a formula for failure.

    For those who like winning, the self-removal of large number of rivals actually mean you and your lineage thrive. Strive to embrace traditional values harder than ever, focus on them even, in your own life and family.

    Most of human history was marked by bitter rivalry and competition for resources for your family and rivals. Rather than bitter rivalry, many of our competitors are now proferring unconditional surrender of their own families and lineages. The king is abdicating the throne. You might as well take it and put it on your head. Smart people who do have children and adhere to true values will see their lineages become the future aristocracy, by default.

    Most telling is the fact that the most successful and admired leftists hardly drink the Koolaid they peddle at all. Look at Barack Obama: Traditional family where the dad works while mom is a stay-at-home housewife. Grandma lives with them and helps with the kids, who live with both parents and are educated in a top private school. Dad is faithful and doesn’t keep anyone on the side.

    • Ray Manta says:

      Dan wrote:
      Most telling is the fact that the most successful and admired leftists hardly drink the Koolaid they peddle at all. Look at Barack Obama:

      I’m not convinced that Barry is considered a successful and admired leftist.
      http://johntreed.com/headline/2010/09/25/the-barack-behind-the-curtain-exposed/

      Time will tell of course.

      Dad is faithful and doesn’t keep anyone on the side.

      Slick Willie and JFK were both admired as leftists yet they had affairs coming out the wazoo. Not sure where you’re going with this ‘virtue gets rewarded’ thing.

      • Dan says:

        Clinton and JFK are from a different era. Clinton was elected 20 years ago! A lot has changed. He signed DOMA and DADT and welfare reform. He understood that the masses need structure. Or in any case, much of the elite still understood that. That seems to be all gone now, in favor of total freedom (anarchy?).

        Funny thing is, people probably need old time religion now more than ever, because society won’t give you one bit of the structure that most people need.

      • Ray Manta says:

        Clinton and JFK are from a different era. Clinton was elected 20 years ago!

        It takes that long, or longer for presidents to be viewed dispassionately. These days, Clinton is fairly well regarded as a president, despite his numerous affairs and the Lewinsky scandal. Jimmy Carter is not, although there’s no reason to believe his personal life was anything less than exemplary. So your point about virtuous actions ranges somewhere between weak and nonexistent.

        He signed DOMA and DADT and welfare reform. He understood that the masses need structure.

        Looks more like political opportunism than anything else to me. Welfare reform had the unintended consequence of shifting the burden of payments from the tax base to individual fathers, and made marriage more unattractive for men than ever before.

        Funny thing is, people probably need old time religion now more than ever, because society won’t give you one bit of the structure that most people need.

        I prefer the popping of the misandry bubble myself.

        http://www.singularity2050.com/2010/01/the-misandry-bubble.html

  11. Dan says:

    “The king is abdicating the throne. You might as well take it and put it on your head”

    haha — meant to say crown

  12. D.K. says:

    I don’t even know what their clothes look like, just the ads. Your write about the money coming from MOm and mom wanting actual (i would think euro) grandkids. true in my family.

  13. Zek202 says:

    The college campus of today has on average a 60/40 female-male ratio. This drives women to great extremes of behavior and dress to attract attention. Just stroll around campus at 0000 on a Friday night and one might think they have missed the announcement for the Slut-Walk.

  14. Ode says:

    Zek2002
    “The college campus of today has on average a 60/40 female-male ratio. This drives women to great extremes of behavior and dress to attract attention.”

    If you think that is extreme wait till you hit 30 years of age. You’ll get to meet lots of single mothers with 2 kids making $25,000 a year who are HUNGRY for a male beta – provider.
    Sometimes I wonder which is the more aggressive sex, male or female?

    I believe one of the major reasons for women’s (out of place behavior) is precisely because we now live in a society that puts no control on women but very strict controls on men. There are certain things that women can get away with but if a man were to do the same, people would call the cops.

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