World Leaders Lock Lips for Benetton’s “Unhate” Campaign

Benetton Unhate Obama

Barack Obama and Hu Jintao. Photo by Fabrica

The marketing department at the United Colors of Benetton is known for their controversial advertisements. Past ads have depicted human hearts, interracial lesbian couples, a woman breast feeding, and even a newborn baby with umbilical chord and all. They’ve outdone themselves once again. Benetton’s newest “Unhate” campaign shows world leaders of opposing ideologies in the midst of a gentle little kiss on the lips. This is definitely a good way to get people’s attention. I would sure stop walking, or at least slow my pace, if I saw an eight-foot tall Barack Obama kissing the president of China.

Benetton Unhate North and South Korea

North Korea's Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak. Photo by Fabrica

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by Fabrica

Benetton Unhate Pope and Sheikh

Pope Benedict XVI and Dr. Ahmed al Tayyeb, the grand sheikh of Cairo's Al Azhar Mosque. Photo by Fabrica.

As you might have guessed, a few people weren’t exactly thrilled about the ads. The pope, for one, was appalled. “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 by attracting attention with provocation,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said. Al Azhar called the ad “irresponsible and absurd” and, as of Nov. 17th, was still deciding whether or not to make an official response. After everyone got all hot and bothered over the obviously fake “intimate moment” between the pope and Ahmed el Tayyeb (and got the name “Benetton” all over the news I might add) the ad was pulled.

Of course the response from the “No Drama Obama” White Hosue was a little more reserved. Obama spokesman Eric Schultz told Agence France-Presse that “the White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.” The other depicted leaders so far haven’t gone as far as the Vatican to take legal action, but they’re probably not too happy.

Benetton defended their campaign, saying its purpose “was solely to battle the culture of hate in all its forms”. And if they weren’t successful in that, the ads sure got a lot of people talking. All I know is I think the ads are great and that they have a positive message about how silly little differences that people take so seriously can be. Good job Benetton.

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World Leaders Lock Lips for Benetton’s “Unhate” Campaign