BrandArena: Benetton 'Unhate' Advert Feature Pope, Obama Others in Same-Sex Kisses

Thursday 17 November 2011

Benetton 'Unhate' Advert Feature Pope, Obama Others in Same-Sex Kisses

Advertisement campaigns are all about being catchy and simple. These have been one of the reasons why emotional and sex appeal is often used by most companies to get maximum attention of their prospective consumers and clients. This might also be the reason that an Italian clothing and retail company, Benetton has launched “Unhate,” a new ad campaign that includes billboards showing unlikely political and religious leaders engaging in bizarre lip-locks.

Photo: Benetton’s UNHATE campaign(President Barack Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez locking lips)

A press release by the company on about UNHATE worldwide campaign, its stated that the new worldwide communication campaign United Colors of Benetton is to invite the leaders and citizens of the world to combat the “culture of hatred” and creates the UNHATE Foundation.

Photo: Benetton’s UNHATE campaign (Pope Benedict XVI and Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo)

The controversial ad. images have been generated attention and receiving condemnation from ire of religious leaders since it was unveiled by Benetton, a company that Ad Age claims has always been known for its polarizing advertisements.  In the past, the company has become well known for its controversial publicity campaigns, which in the past have included the image of a nun kissing a priest and parents grieving over a man dying of Aids.

Protest to Italian clothing firm Benetton over its use of an image of Pope Benedict kissing an imam on the mouth in its latest shock advertising campaign. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi called the unauthorised and “manipulative” use of the pope’s picture in the photo montage “totally unacceptable” and suggested it might take legal action against the company.

The company announced that the ad featuring the Pope will be pulled. The AP reports: ”The Benetton clothing company has withdrawn an ad showing Pope Benedict XVI kissing a top Egyptian imam on the lips after the Vatican denounced it as an ‘unacceptable’ provocation.”

Photo: Benetton’s UNHATE campaign

The UNHATE communication project includes a series of coordinated initiatives and events, starting on 16 November in the main newspapers, periodicals and websites around the world. The central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, between world political and religious leaders, such as: Barack Obama and Chinese leader Hu Jintao; Pope Benedict XVI and Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo (the most important and moderate centre for Sunni Islamic studies in the world); the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These are symbolic images of reconciliation - with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation - to stimulate reflection on how politics, faith and ideas, even when they are divergent and mutually opposed, must still lead to dialogue and mediation.

The new campaign is the first initiative of the UNHATE project, the new foundation of Benetton, aimed at fostering positive change in communities across the globe and contributing to “the creation of a new culture of tolerance, to combat hatred, building on Benetton’s underpinning values.”

Photo: Benetton’s UNHATE campaign (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas kissing passionately)

Benetton has also launched the website, which showcases vivid stills and videos from the United Colors of Benetton campaign and events across the globe, as well as has two applications, UNHATE KISS WALL and UNHATE LIST, ‘shaped’ by users of the website. The first application matches two randomly selected photos from those uploaded to the platform, and unites them in a kiss, and the second one is a user-generated list of things and people that are not hated.

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