Annals of Advertising: Toscani's Controversial Anorexia Print Campaign

There are lots of ways to sell products and ideas with photographs, but nobody does it like Italian fashion photographer Oliviero Toscani. For years he used Benneton's models who have become an embarrassment for the fashion industry. His new campaign, which debuted with fashion week in Milan, shows a 27-year-old French model, Isabelle Caro, who weighs 68 pounds. Shocking? Yes.

There are lots of ways to sell products and ideas with photographs, but nobody does it like Italian fashion photographer Oliviero Toscani. For years he used Benneton's "Colors" magazine to move woolens by showing shocking images of AIDS victims and copulating horses. Now he has taken on anorexia--specifically the "size-zero" models who have become an embarrassment for the fashion industry. His new campaign, which debuted with fashion week in Milan, shows a 27-year-old French model, Isabelle Caro, who weighs 68 pounds. Shocking? Yes. Some doctors, however, wonder whether the idealized image might actually help cause young girls to develop eating disorders. I think this kind of advertising actually desensitizes us to horrific diseases. But it certainly stops you in your tracks.
--David Schonauer