Benetton’s search for Unemployees of the Year

Benetton has unveiled the latest in its series of UnHate projects, following on from its ‘kissing world leaders’ campaign. Unemployee of the Year is an online contest that will provide 100 out-of-work young people with funding for social initiatives

Benetton has unveiled the latest in its series of UnHate projects, following on from its ‘kissing world leaders’ campaign. Unemployee of the Year is an online contest that will provide 100 out-of-work young people with funding for social initiatives…

According to company chairman Alessandro Benetton, the new campaign, which launches via the brand’s UnHate Foundation, is not as shocking as previous iterations, but is instead a reaction to some shocking circumstances; namely, youth unemployment in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The new campaign hangs on the grim statistic that the number of unemployed people in the world aged between 15 and 29 now stands at over 100m.

The campaign by Fabrica, in cooperation with 72andSunny Amsterdam, features posters and press ads shot by Anna Skladmann and a rather worthy-looking film (fashion-does-protest, see below) which flag up the Unemployee of the Year competition.

And while the name perhaps echoes the irony-laden campaigns of Diesel, the quest for seeking out a group of 100 unemployed 18-30-year olds with ambitions to change society for the better is entirely serious, with Benetton putting up €500,000 in prize money to be divided among the winning projects.

Participants are invited to submit either projects “for the development of art works with a social dimension” or those “for the implementation of economic activities, profit or non-profit, that have a social impact which is coherent with UnHate Foundation’s values”.

Benetton say the company has no involvement as juror, but there is a preliminary stage where all submissions are “assessed”, presumably to weed out those who might object to the idea as much to ensure that the projects are “consistent with the Foundation’s mission”. Once approved, other participants who have joined the UnHate Foundation Community can then vote on the projects.

To submit a proposal, users must create a Facebook profile and upload their concept to unhatefoundation.org before October 14. The list of 100 winners will be published on the site by October 31 with each receiving €5,000.

Just how ambitious these projects turn out to be may prove a test for the company in October when the money is handed over to the winners. Benetton will no doubt be keen to follow up each inititiative to see how the cash is spent – contest rules stipulate that each winner has six months in which to establish their project, and that receipts are to be provided to show where investment has gone.

For Benetton, a brand never shy of working politics into its advertising, the project certainly marks a new drive to more socially-aware communications. And any successful initiatives would give the brand an enviable association with young, socially-aware entrepreneurs. But will the company’s support and, indeed, the young people’s employment, continue after the money runs out?

More details at unhatefoundation.org.

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