For its new campaign, called “Unhate”, the Italian fashion company United Colors of Benetton has come up with the idea of photos of political leaders kissing. The Photoshopped pictures of several presidents and of the Pope himself has started a scandal at the Vatican.
The “Unhate” Benetton campaign photos are quite shocking. Not because the people kissing in the photos are notorious political faces, but because the couples are chosen in such ways that they would have totally opposite views and ideas.
For example, the president of the United States of America, Barak Obama, is tenderly kissing the lips of Hugo Chavez. In another photo, he is smooching Hu Jintao, the president of China.
A photo in particular made the Vatican boil: the one in which Pope Benedict XVI himself is kissing Egyptian Iman Ahmed el Tayyeb. “This is a grave lack of respect for the Pope”, said the Vatican representative Federico Lombardi in a statement, adding that not only did the campaign offended the “sentiments of the faithful”, but it has also proven how “advertising can violate elementary rules of respect for people in order to attract attention through provocation.”
The White House has not commented on the campaign photos, yet.
Benetton has apologized for the possible offense to the faithful, but added that it had no plans in altering the campaign whatsoever. The campaign’s purpose is to raise awareness that “hate and love are not as far away from each other as we think”.
Other photos used by Benetton illustrate the German Chancellor Angela Merkel kissing Nicholas Sarkozy, the president of France. The clothing company is known for its shocking campaign in order to gain contrast and taboo themes. Its advertising history includes photos of a black woman feeding a white baby, a priest kissing a nun and a patient with AIDS on his deathbed.