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Benetton brings global model search to life with augmented reality

By Agnes Teh for CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Benetton is taking its search for models online to find "new faces of the 21st century."
  • Benetton is using online and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to drive publicity
  • The campaign features augmented reality technology where readers become part of it

London, England (CNN) -- Famed for its provocative ad campaigns, including the famous image of a newborn baby still attached to the umbilical cord, fashion brand Benetton has always stayed one step ahead of the fashion pack.

Now the Italian retailer is taking the search for models into Web 2.0 with a global online casting called "It's My Time," to find "new faces of the 21st century."

"Instead of using professional models, we thought, why not ask the world to show us what they really look like -- instead of trying to show the world what we think it looks like," said Andy Cameron, Executive Director of Fabrica, the team who spearheaded Benetton's interactive campaign.

The online campaign features highly interactive elements and more notably, an augmented reality technology where readers become part of the campaign.

The concept is simple: Log on to casting.benetton.com, and print a page of the campaign which has a black-and-white graphic code. Focus your webcam on the code, and you'll enter into an animated video with moving images of models.

Augmented Reality is a technology that blends elements of the real and virtual together, creating a mixed reality.

We thought, why not ask the world to show us what they really look like -- instead of trying to show the world what we think it looks like
--Andy Cameron, Executive Director, Fabrica
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"Models don't just look good in a static way," said Cameron about the technology. "It's about models who can move, who can sing, who can tell a story, who can dance, it brings the model to life," he added.

The casting which runs until March 16 will see aspiring models vie for the public's vote with their most creative photos and videos on a specially created Web site.

Benetton is using a range of online and social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to drive publicity for the worldwide competition.

"We are looking at people who aren't necessarily professional models, who aren't necessarily size 10 -- we want to reflect that diversity around the world," said Cameron of the project.

The hundred with the most votes will be evaluated by a panel of experts -- of which, twenty will be flown to New York to feature in a Benetton's fashion shoot.

Already the site has seen close to 30,000 entries with a majority of the entrants being Benetton's twenty-something demographic.

Response and exchange across online social media groups has been overwhelmingly positive, said Cameron. "I believe there's a real energy that we've tapped into... there's a lot of comments going on there. And it's surprisingly positive because when you think about it, social media can be a bit sharp with each other."

"I remember the first night we opened the site. I just kept clicking, and clicking and you see this thing going around the world," he said, recalling the day the campaign launched, earlier this month.

"You see it in Italy, you see it in Spain, you see it in Portugal. And then Jakarta, China and Hong Kong -- it's just unbelievable how it has really captured people's imaginations."

 
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