Benetton loves controversy and on Wednesday it launched a new global advertising campaign called UNHATE. The campaign contains doctored photomontages of political and religious leaders kissing (yes, on the mouth). Benetton PR says the ads “battle the culture of hate” while the kiss is “the most universal symbol of love.”
The biggest fuss created by the campaign was the doctored photo of Pope Benedict XVI kissing Ahmed el Tayyeb, a leading Imam.
One day later, after much public agita, Benetton has pulled the Pope/Imam image, apologizing if it had “hurt the sensibilities of the faithful”. While the apology might seem disingenuous, all it took was one day to get the campaign REALLY noticed.
The PR verdict: “A Minus” for Benetton and its Advertising/PR launch.
Now that’s returning Benetton to its 1990’s buzzy,boundary-breaking form! But given the ads were appearing in the windows of over 2000 stores, staff could easily be at risk. At that point it is probably best to call it a day. A high mark for reinforcing Benetton as cutting edge – even if the sweaters aren’t.