Benetton withdraws ad showing pope-imam kiss

The latest in a long line of provocative United Colors of Benetton ads features (Photoshopped) images of world leaders – some of whom it’s hard to imagine shaking hands – making out.
If the sweater maker’s goal was to create controversy, mission accomplished. Only a few hours after unveiling it, Benetton withdrew an ad showing Pope Benedict XVI kissing a top Egyptian imam on the lips after the Vatican denounced it as an “unacceptable” provocation, The Associated Press reports.
The campaign also features President Barack Obama getting sugar from Venzuela’s president and noted D.C.-hater Hugo Chavez as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas kissing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kissing. Those images have not yet been withdrawn.

Well, good for them for withdrawing this vile, disgusting display.

It’s too bad they had to go for the shock value - otherwise their supposed message of peace and love would be believable.

I remember I took a course on rhetoric where we deconstructed some Benetton ads. They have some really out-there advertising strategies that have nothing to do with their clothes (which I still know nothing about even after seeing about 20 of their ads.)

They must be desperate for attention. I didn’t realize they were still in business.

Christ’s own words ring true even today:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money]. Matthew 6:24”

Bottom line is still money. You would think they’d stop at pretending to advocate PEACE and LOVE. Only shows how far they can go to serve their master.

But if they’re for real, pulling down the ad won’t undo the damage done to their image. Firing those responsible would probably compensate a little bit.

Anyway, I haven’t purchased a Benetton product since the late 80’s. Have you? I gave up even wasting my time browsing their lines. Maybe that’s one reason for the desperate stunt. :smiley:

Apparently the ad campaign was intended to relaunch the brand, hoping to pull the company out of stagnation. So it seems to have been a top level decision by this family-run business.

The “Unhate” campaign is part of a three-pronged plan to relaunch Benetton’s brand, product and retail network, says Alessandro Benetton, deputy chairman of family-controlled Benetton Group SpA and son of the founder. The label is streamlining its collection and focusing on knitwear and colors—two of the company’s 1980s staples. It is also firming ties with franchisees to better control brand image.

Benetton’s in-house communications agency Fabrica doctored the leaders’ pictures without their permission. Before the Vatican weighed in, Mr. Benetton said he didn’t expect complaints because the ads promote a message of peace.

You seem to be onto something. The article I cited mentioned that the brand was struggling to find its place in the fashion world and was financially in the doldrums. I have to admit, when I hear “Benetton,” it brings back memories from the 1980s.

Then again, the brand used to be targeted to a youthful market. If that is still the case, I am well out of their demographic, now. :o

That is completely repulsive, and whereas before I saw this I had no negative opinion of Benetton, now I can give them complete assurance that I will never purchase any Benetton item.

The photo was displayed on many news outlets without the headline that it was a fake. I was shocked, horrified and disgusted. FWIW I remember Benetton in the past (totally 80s man!) and didn’t realize they were still in business. I can’t believe they truly thought this would stimulate sales. I am going to see if there is a website and send an email about their disgusting perversion of reality.

LIsa A

Boycott Benetton? Never knew they still existed until today :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe this is their intention, to get noticed again. Now its free advertising.

I thought the same thing…“mumble mumble Pope…mumble mumble BENETTON IS STILL IN BUSINESS???”

As a Christian, I’m no longer outraged by slams like this. Sad to say, I’ve grown numb to it after decades of “**** Christ”, etc.

Members Only better not even think about it, though!

I think this is deliberate that the ad “leaked”. They paid an ad agency but now has saved millions from running the ad. The ad is out there, people are talking about it. From a purely business-marketing perspective, this is brilliant.

Naaa - desperate

People talking are not the same as people buying. I suspect the majority of people were repulsed by the ads. The one featuring the Pope was most offensive to me but I saw some of the others and the male on male, mouth kissing was disgusting. Do you think this would make anyone want to BUY the product? If they are of libertine persuasion and not offended, it still doesn’t mean they want the clothing line. That’s the problem with these outrageous ads, they may get notice but little is the right kind and without any connection to the product (you think clothing when you see two world leaders kissing? I don’t) people aren’t going to be persuaded to buy.

FWIW Benetton is know for somewhat edgy and provacative ads. Nothing like this though. The other thing is that they claim the ad was “taken down” but when I got on their website to send a letter of complaint the photo with the Holy Father was STILL THERE.

Lisa A

Well as proven by recent history, even repulsive act do help companies, even individuals, gain popularity and generate sales. Yes, I agree they are repulsive, but they just saved a ton of money on advertising when everyone is talking about them right now. Most people who would buy brand name products aren’t the conservative religious types anyway. I mean, for myself I buy brand name but mostly from outlet malls where they’re really cheap. I’m sure the liberal, anti-Catholic celebrity types will ride on this and help them promote even further. Notoriety is a marketing value nowadays, I guess thanks to the “gangsta” hip-hop culture and the “druggie suicidal” heavy metal crowd.

CAF is actually the only place I have seen reference to the ads. I don’t know how “out there” it really is… maybe I just haven’t run across it yet.

My DH uses AOL and this picture was displayed in the news section, for at least one day.

I’ve seen it on internet news sites. Of course they chose to use the photo of the Pope rather than Obama or Merkel…

I believe the ads weren’t actually released as ads in print but Benetton got publicity by ‘leaking’ the photos. Last time I looked it was on the Benetton site although they claim they took the ads/photos down. GRRRR!
Lisa A

“While global love is still a utopia, albeit a worthy one, the invitation ‘not to hate’, to combat the ‘culture of hatred’, is an ambitious but realistic objective,” Benetton said in a press release.

To use the “kissing” theme is a bit ironic, in recalling a certain fellow by the name of Judas Iscariot.

Its on Yahoo! News and the free newspaper I get at the train station. It should be in the paid dailies as well (which I do not buy).

I think that is largely due to the Vatican’s objection and vow to pursue sanctions against Benetton. That certainly drew attention to the ad campaign.

The ads did appear in some cities (Paris and Rome, at least.) You can see some of them here

(BTW, the slideshow opens with President Obama and President Hu Jintao)

Benetton used to do Formula One Grand Prix ads. They should stick to that rather.

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