Benetton 'Unhate' Campaign

by Roger L. Brooks 

Okay, I'm all for a little controversy to draw some attention, but Benetton has taken things a bit too far. The Italian company has launched its new 'Unhate' advertising campaign in which it chose to mock-up images such as Pope Benedict XVI kissing Islamic leader Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, and China's leader Hu Jintao kissing President Barack Obama. Benetton withdrew the photograph featuring the Pope after the Vatican denounced it as an unacceptable provocation, and 'totally unacceptable'.

I went to the Benetton location on Fifth Ave in New York City this past Saturday, and there were clearly less people in the store than the droves of people that lined the sidewalk in front of the store viewing the giant photo of Jintao/ Obama (image above). Onlookers had strong opinions about the photo—many asking, “Is it real?”

The concept of ‘Unhate’ is GREAT, but don’t stoop to the all-time low of lows—profiting on fabrication. 

Image controversy using ‘shock-ads’ is no stranger to Benetton. They have long been a part of Benetton's publicity strategy. In the past, such controversial campaigns featured people dying of AIDS as well as inmates on death row.

It’s a bold move, and once again time will tell if Benetton's campaign is ingenious or ignorant.