Thursday, 17 November 2011

Awww, just kiss and make up already.

Advertising is designed to get certain emotions going to sell their products or ideology.  Quite a few adverts cause controversy.  United Colors of Benetton have released one such ad campaign which has sent people up in arms.

Benetton's Unhate campaign is trying to spread the message of tolerance and "unhate".  Quoted from their website...
What does UNHATE mean? UN-hate. Stop hating, if you were hating. Unhate is a message that invites us to consider that hate and love are not as far away from each other as we think. Actually, the two opposing sentiments are often in a delicate and unstable balance. Our campaign promotes a shift in the balance: don’t hate, Unhate
I think this is a WONDERFUL message to spread.  It's not everyday that a big firm would release a specific campaign urging people the world over to stop hating each other.  Unfortunately, this message is a little lost on some people.  First in line to argue this "controversial advertising" is the Vatican, on behalf of Pope Benedict.

Don't they make a lovely couple?
Locking lips with the Pope in that image is Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, a prominant imam and scholar of Sunni Islam from Cairo.  Other images in the campaign has Barack Obama kissing the leaders from China and Venezuela, Angela Merkel kissing Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of Palestine kissing the Prime Minister of Israel, and another personal favourite of mine, Kim Jong-il kissing the president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak.

Unfortunately, the Pope's poster hasn't been up for more than an hour before they were forced to pull it from their website due to complaints from Vatican City. 
"This shows a grave lack of respect for the Pope, an offence to the feelings of believers, a clear demonstration of how publicity can violate the basic rules of respect for people," said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's spokesman.
The posters were unveiled in a "series of guerilla actions" according to the company, with the posters of Benedict/Ahemd, Merkel/Sarkozy and Obama/Hu Jintao being revealed in Rome, Paris and Milan respectively.  As of yet, the Pope is the only one considering taking legal action against the company for his particular poster, although I would be very interested in hearing the reactions of the other posters from the other featured leaders.  Alessandro Benetton, the deputy head of the company, knew what he was doing in this provocative campaign but wanted to share the ideal notion of love through these posters.  Good on him, I say; I love this campaign.
"The central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, between world political and religious leaders," Alessandro Benetton said in a statement.
 I suggest heading over to their website and check out the other posters.  It's like looking at movie posters for an upcoming rom-com next summer.  

(News source: Daily Telegraph)


  1. At the end of the day the Alessandro Benetton was within his right to stir up a controversial campaign and use the images of whoever he chose to do so.

    However, the people in these images are well within their rights to become upset about him using their images in such a controversial way and put up a complaint about it.

  2. I fully think that Benetton knew that the ads would be controversial, and that the controversy, as well as the images, would *receive world-wide notice and viral spread*.

    Whoever dreamed up this campaign will get a bonus for sure.