The Common Good
September-October 1995

True Colors

by Rachel Johnson, Aaron McCarroll Gallegos | September-October 1995

Child laborers, a human body stamped with an "HIV-positive" inscription, and a waterfowl stuck in an oil slick are three of the images used in controversial advertisements...

Child laborers, a human body stamped with an "HIV-positive" inscription, and a waterfowl stuck in an oil slick are three of the images used in controversial advertisements by the Italian clothing company, Benetton. These three in particular were recently banned from being displayed in Germany by a German appeals court that claimed the ads exploited suffering.

Kalle Lasn, editor of Adbusters magazine in Vancouver, British Columbia, agrees that Benetton's ads exploit solely for financial profit, yet he finds the decision by the German court outrageous. "[The ruling] plays into Benetton's hands," Lasn explained. "It just creates more notoriety for a company that already has more than its share."

Adbusters Media Foundation formed five years ago out of a movement to stop the timber industry from cutting down old-growth forests and the accompanying realization that the mass media are not democratic. The group has built a reputation for challenging the advertising schemes of major corporations, criticizing them for polluting people's minds and creating an excess of consumerism.

"On the rubble of the old media culture, we will build a new one with a non-commercial heart and soul," states part of the Adbusters Media Foundation credo. With the use of "anti-ads" and "uncommercials" (ads that serve as parodies), Adbusters creatively opposes unjust marketing practices. One of their spoofs on Benetton, showing a man with bulging eyes and money stuffed into his mouth, reads, "THE TRUE COLORS OF BENETTON." That pretty much says it all.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)