United Colors of Benetton Breastfeeding with Handcuffs

1989 was a significant year in Benetton’s advertising history. Creative director, copywriter, art director and photographer Oliviero Toscani produced a pair of photographs that established a precedent for another eleven years. Benetton, the Italian clothing company, had worked with Toscani since 1982 when he began work via advertising agency Eldorado.

Hands in handcuffs for Benetton poster

The ‘Handcuffs’ and “Breastfeeding” posters set out to develop a sense of common humanity that transcends skin colour. Not all were convinced about the wisdom of the campaign however. Some critics were concerned that the Breastfeeding poster in particular renewed the historical sense systemic abuse in the Americas in which slaves were required to breastfeed the children of white owners. Despite the criticism the Breastfeeding poster won awards in France (Cannes) and Italy.

Black woman feeding white baby for Benetton poster

See the United Colors of Benetton Institutional campaigns of 1989 to 2004.

Filed under: Benetton, Posters, Print

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