WWD: Fashion Advertising: Controversy — Where Has It Gone?
Outrageous, edgy fashion ads that get everybody talking. Where did they go?
Gone are the scandalous days of Calvin’s rippling abs and come-hither youth; Abercrombie’s S&M Santa; the full-frontal Saint Laurent; Benetton’s kissing clergy, and Jenny McCarthy doing her business on Candie’s toilet.
It wasn’t controversy that killed them. On the contrary, such controversy successfully put these and other brands squarely into the limelight, for better or worse.
But after shifts from the shocking and sexually suggestive to the socially conscious and lifestyle aspirational, the fashion industry has entered a new state: tame.
Blame it on the media. With so much corporate emphasis on having the right social campaign, Instagram, Twitter feeds, videos, Web sites and the goal of accumulating “likes” on Facebook, not to mention global, cross-cultural sensitivities, the edge that cuts through the advertising clutter has been dulled.
To be sure, there’s no shortage of talented photographers who take beautiful pictures, but some observers argue that intensely image-conscious companies, public or otherwise, are so intent on controlling how they’re perceived, advertising has simply become too safe. And safe equates with boring.