New Benetton ‘Unhate’ campaign rattles the Pope

Benetton, from time to time a rather contentious jumper manufacturer, has struck another winner (in publicity terms at least) with its new ‘Unhate’ campaign.

This features supposedly opposing world leaders enjoying a jolly good snog with each other. And the first to complain has been Pope Benedict XV1 who objected to a concocted image of him kissing Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, the head of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo.

The ‘Unhate’ campaign is from Benetton’s in-house agency Fabrica with LA’s 72and Sunny. The Pope ad has been hastily withdrawn but others featuring the likes of Angela Merkel and Silvio Berlusconi and Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are going ahead.

Benetton plans to feature a ‘kiss wall’ website where consumers can upload their own kisses and has also produced a short film, ‘Unhate.’

Benetton has travelled this road before of course, most notably with its ‘Aids’ campaign of a dcade or more ago. That one, though, did push the proverbial envelope rather too far. It no doubt helped to raise awareness of Aids but there seemed to be something distasteful about a fashion brand promoting itself that way.

This one though just seems to poke fun at our pompous so-called leaders although that hasn’t stopped a slew of media owners, including the UK’s Guardian newspaper for some reason, banning the ads. Others, including The Economist and Le Monde, are going to run them.

Good for them.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.