I’ve always loved the promotional campaigns for Undercolors of Benetton: those bright, busy photoshoots of hip and healthy young people goofing around en masse in their undies as though it was the most natural thing in the world to do. And I’m a big fan of the Swedish fashion underwear giant Bjorn Borg, which is also renowned for its bold and edgy marketing.
But what are we to make of the startling similarities in this year’s spring campaigns from the two international billion-dollar fashion heavyweights?
The top image is Benetton, from their 2011 swimwear campaign; the bottom is from Borg’s spring undies promo. To my eye, they look like they were shot on the same day in the same studio by the same photog — and possibly using the same models (check out the guy third from the left in each image!). Flip through the lookbooks for both companies and I guarantee you’ll be scratching your head too. Were it not for the fact that Borg only uses pasty-white models in its adverts, you’d swear it was the same company as Benetton.
The marketing imagery used by both brands is also selling the same paradigm of youth culture: social cohesion based on fashion variety — conformity and individualism in one package. Underwear isn’t shown as private clothing; it’s a key part of our collective experience. No wonder high school is so much fun.
Now, I wouldn’t want to accuse anyone of plagiarism, but Benetton is the older brand with an established signature look to its marketing. And given that the two brands compete with each other in many markets, I doubt Benetton will view this imitation as the sincerest form of flattery!
Need more proof? Top photo below is from Benetton’s fashion campaign; bottom is from Borg.