The New Bread Line

Fashion Brand Seeks Jobless

Remember last year’s Benetton campaign, with all the kissing politicians?

The line’s new campaign, entitled “Unemployee of the Year,” promises to be just as controversial: it’s a competition that aims to give unemployed young people an opportunity to express their concepts for a project that will have a positive social impact.

The web-based competition, open from Tuesday until October 30, asks unemployed 18 to 30-year-olds (or, “NEETs” -- not in education, employment or training-- as they call them) to submit their proposals to the UNHATE Foundation site. Projects can be something abstract to a full-blown business idea, with the only requirement that the project have some tangible benefit for the immediate community. Only 18 to 30-year-olds will be invited to vote on what they consider to be the best proposals, and 100 projects with the most votes will be awarded €5000 each and offered practical support by the Foundation.

Benetton's Communications Director, Gianluca Pastore, said that the search for the Unemployee of the Year is about creating a "shift in perception" and aims to "celebrate a generation that is trying hard to find it’s place in society." Alessandro Benetton, chairman of the business since April, said that spotlighting social issues is an important part of the brand’s DNA. This project, he says, is an “institutional campaign about long term values, not at all commercially related. We must keep building on the values that have made Benetton the brand that it is.” When asked about his plans for the fashion brand as a whole, he says: “Today, as in recent campaigns, we are focusing on our strengths to ensure that the customer gets back in touch with our values. We are not a disposable fashion brand. We need to re-iterate, improve and re-express what Benetton stands for and what we are very good at doing."