Monday, November 21, 2011

HATE it or UNHATE. United Colors of Benetton Campaign 2011.

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United Colors of Benetton certainly did not fail to spark controversy with their latest ad campaign called "UNHATE". The ads feature photoshopped images of world leaders kissing bordering on the making out zone. The Vatican was more than unhappy because one photo includes that of Pope Benedict XVI kissing Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo. Vatican denounced it as an "unacceptable" provocation, the Associated Press reports. They are taking legal action to prevent the circulation of the ads. In a statement last Thursday they labeled the image "offensive not only to the dignity of the pope and the Catholic Church, but also to the sensibilities of believers. It shows a serious lack of respect for the pope," the Vatican spokesman said.

Benetton's campaign is built to achieve reconciliation and acceptance.  In the press kits Benetton mentioned that they are "inviting the leaders and citizens of the world to combat the culture of hatred."  According to Benetton "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."  

President Obama’s likeness engaging in a kiss with Chinese President Hu Jintao
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
US President Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela

Activities for the campaign include posting the controversial photos in symbolic locations.  Last Wednesday images from the campaign exposed momentarily in Milan, New York, Paris, Tel Aviv and Rome but were quickly taken away.
Milan, Italy

New York

Paris, France

Tel Aviv

This is the photo (below) Benetton withdrew after getting a fierce protest from the Vatican. (The Pope and Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo)

Agency: Fabrica in cooperation with 72andSunny NL
Creative Director/Writer, 72andSunny: Carlo Cavallone
Creative Director/Designer, 72andSunny: Paulo Martins
Design Director/Partner, 72andSunny: Robert Nakata
Creative Director/ FABRICA: Erik Ravelo

You may support the campaign by uploading your own photos on their Kiss Wall.
All photos taken from Benetton's UNHATE website.

The fashion house is known for it's shock advertising method.  I believe that in purchasing you don't just buy the brand alone, but the identity that it represents. So brands like Benetton would jump into the cultism of beyond selling products, even in the most cynical manner.  But certainly they achieved the goal of boosting introspection.  A lot of questions were asked and discussions were made. We buy a shirt or dress because we believe it represents what we have confidence in.  In a world of high end technology in an almost robotic society - sometimes exaggeration is the key to get a powerful message across.  At the same time I can see that using images like these can seriously offend people.  

It's really hard to quantify social responsibility and regulate creativity. As for this campaign - you may either hate it or UNHATE.

You decide.

"Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things."
- David Ogilvy


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