To Hate or ‘Unhate’, That is Benetton’s Question
“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” – Rodney King
In its latest attempt to take on weightier issues than fashion, the controversy seeking Benetton chain has launched a new ad campaign that uses computer altered photos of world leaders, often viewed as adversaries, kissing one another on the lips.
The ad that seemed to generate the highest level of howling involved Pope Benedict XVI and a prominent Islamic cleric, Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo. Benetton made the decision to pull the ad after legal threats were made by the Vatican.
Alessandro Benetton, executive deputy chairman of Benetton, defended the “Unhate” campaign on the company’s blog.
“At this moment in history, so full of major upheavals and equally large hopes, we have decided, through this campaign, to give widespread visibility to an ideal notion of tolerance and invite the citizens of every country to reflect on how hatred arises particularly from fear of ‘the other’ and of what is unfamiliar to us. Ours is a universal campaign, using instruments such as the internet, the world of social media, and artistic imagination, and it is unique, in that it calls the citizens of the world to action.”
Some questioned the legality of the campaign since it uses individuals who have not given permission for their likenesses to be used.
“This is not a product advertising campaign. It makes no reference to our products,” Luca Biondolillo, a spokesperson for Benetton, told USA Today.
- 25 Most Memorable Quotes – USA Today
- Contrasting the Culture of Hatred: Unhate – United Colors of Benetton
- Benetton gets world leaders smooching in provocative ads – USA Today
- Benetton Retries Provocation – The Wall Street Journal
Discussion Questions: What is your reaction to the new Benetton campaign? Will it help the chain sell more clothing?