Benetton's controversial art director Oliviero Toscani has returned to the brand to create a new campaign, his first for 17 years for the Italian fashion brand.
Toscani, whose past work included images of a nun and priest kissing and a baby with an umbilical cord still attached, has shot two new print ads set in an Italian schoolroom, showing children of different races and skin colors sitting enjoying their teacher reading to them from "Pinocchio." The class of 28 children incorporates 13 nationalities, with kids not only from Italy but from countries such as Burkina Faso and the Philippines.
The images, which appear in the Italian and foreign press today, echo the multiracial themed ads for which Benetton originally became well known in the 1980s, but come at a time when immigration is increasing racism in Europe.
"Integration is a major issue in our world today," says Toscani in a statement. "The future will hang on how, and to what extent, we use our intelligence to integrate with others and to overcome fear."
The campaign comes as Benetton founder Luciano Benetton is also returning to the privately-owned company, which made an 81 million euro loss last year and has been overtaken by rivals like Zara and H&M. He hopes to relaunch the brand with Toscani's help. According to the company, Toscani is also working on a wider project about integration for Benetton, and a brand and product-focused campaign set to launch in February 2018.