Italy's political situation has been on the radar for quite some time now, and the recent announcement of Silvio Berlusconi's return to politics has not allowed the country to leave the spot light. On a recent trip back to my hometown, Milan, a couple of adverts by the clothing line Piazza Italia caught my eye.
This one in particular was hard to miss; a semi-naked young girl in a studded leather bra with the words "I am now ready to enter politics" beside her. Everyone is clearly aware of Berlusconi's behind the scene (or not always so behind the scene) activities with younger women, but Piazza Italia decided to aim their advert directly towards these talks. Things have gone downhill since the 2009 scandal where Veronica Lario, Berlusconi's second wife, posted a letter to the press saying she was leaving her husband due to his relations with 18 year old Noemi Letizia. Week after week Italian citizens were bombarded with the news of parties, orgies and so on that were thrown by the prime minister, to which young girls would attend.
After Noemi 'Papi' Letizia and Ruby Rubacuori, even ex showgirl Mara Carfagna and Nicole Minetti landed in the Berlusconi sphere, the former entering Italian politics as minister for equal opportunities and the latter as regional councillor for Lombardy. Piazza Italia decided to take these scandals to begin their new 'shock' campaign, which seems to touch a soft spot in this thorny economic downturn where Italians are already presented with more complex problems.
This advert not only uncovers the flaws in Italian politics, where young, beautiful, and most of all unqualified women easily enter politics due to the power Berlusconi had, but due to the anti-olgettine irony (Via Olgettina is a road in which young girls resided and would be paid by Berlusconi around 2500 euro per month) that is not always perceived, it also seems to portray women in a wrongful manner, as objects used for sex, that will offer themselves for high paying political jobs.
Piazza Italia also decided to focus on the 'Bossi' matter, where the son of Umberto Bossi, Renzo, after failing his 'maturità exam' (equivalent of A levels) 3 times and seemingly paying for his final pass, was elected in Italian politics, earning around 12 thousand euro a month. This is shown in the advert by a young man with the quote " If I fail again maybe I'll become Councillor". The language is ironic but cutting, the tones are bitter and hide nothing.
The final advert that really catches the eye is the one that portrays an older man saying, " I am ready to NOT retire". This particular ad was oriented towards the matters concerning pensions in Italy. Italy no longer seems capable of paying pensions, the working years have been increased from 40 years to 42, meaning that many elders had to rethink their plans due to the prolongation of their work life.
It is extremely significant how an advertising campaign such as this one can photograph the combination of a general malaise, and laugh at the hateful behaviour of the ruling class where the Papi Girls get given key jobs and the "sons of" can enter politics due to inheritance rather than merit. As they state in their press release, Piazza Italia acknowledges the protests of the citizens and entrusts them to a group of common faces that express the thoughts of an army of dissatisfied citizens. Insulted, harassed and frustrated, they have been unable to find a job or to be given the right to retire at the expected and agreed time.