Toscani's Anorexia Ads Unleash the Italian PC Police
The Nolita ad at left features Isabelle Caro, a French actress suffering from anorexia.
Guess who's responsible for it? Oliviero Toscani, the guy who fell out of Benetton shortly after his controversial "We, On Death Row" campaign in 2000.
Toscani calls publications with exclusively Nordic models "Fourth Reich publishers" and is known for using ads to address sensitive topics like AIDS and racial tolerance in a way that might give you whiplash.
At one point he was responsible for a billboard across the street from the Vatican that featured a nun and priest kissing. (If that wasn't enough to drive Benetton to push eject, we want to know what made the death row effort so special -- it's generated its fair share of copycats.)
Now Toscani, who isn't exactly Italy's favourite photographer, is getting a wrist-slapping for using naked anorexic women in a print campaign. (Because nobody else does that, right?) The ads say "No Anorexia" in bold letters and were premiered at Milan Fashion Week last month.
The work allegedly breaches code of conduct articles having to do with an ad's honesty, and its potential to wound human dignity or negatively target certain beliefs.
If we were nailed every time we failed to "maintain human dignity," would we still have an industry? Isn't advertising all about making people feel like life's incomplete without an iPod or a carton of Haagen-Dazs (both of which we have beside us RIGHT NOW)?
Toscani calls the ban "censorship" and is considering legal action.
We're on the fence when it comes to Toscani but he does keep things interesting -- and for us, his work brought the Benetton brand to life.