Benetton’s controversial kissing ads…

Benetton’s controversial kissing ads…

The media has been full with above controversial matter.Here is a news item from one media report : Shock, anger follow Benetton’s controversial kissing ads.Benetton’s ads showing world leaders kissing each other on the mouth has caused an uproar in various parts of the globe, angering the Vatican enough to take legal action. The ads are part of the company’s “Unhate” campaign — and yet another example of “shockvertising” by the Italian clothing company.The poster-size ads were unveiled in major cities including New York,Milan and Paris on Wednesday.Benetton’s ads showing world leaders kissing each other on the mouth has caused an uproar in various parts of the globe, angering the Vatican enough to take legal action. The ads are part of the company’s “Unhate” campaign — and yet another example of “shockvertising” by the Italian clothing company.The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday about the digitally manipulated images in the ads, two of which show President Obama kissing Hugo Chavez, above, and Chinese President Hu Jintao.The White House had a succinct response to the Obama ads. Spokesman Eric Schultz told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday: “The White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.”The Vatican quickly said it would take legal action to stop the distribution of the photo montage featuring the Pope and Ahmed el Tayeb, the head of Cairo’s Al Azhar institution. And Benetton just as quickly removed ads in Italy showing Pope Benedict XVI in a tight clasp with the imam, who grips the Pope on the back of the neck as they kiss in one doctored photo.On Thursday, Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League, had this to say in a news release:The damage that Benetton did is done — the offensive photo of the Holy Father and the imam is posted on the Internet. Benetton has a history of not only being edgy, but of being anti-Catholic and vulgar: in 1995, its magazine Colors featured Christmas holiday ads promoting such gifts as a bull’s testicles and a metal instrument used to abort unborn children. The Catholic League quickly condemned Benetton at the time.Benetton gets no points for withdrawing the Pope-Imam ad. It knew what it was doing, and we know from past experience what its intent was. What is particularly striking about all this is that the ad campaign was launched to promote tolerance. Guess its hatred of Catholicism is so strong that even appeals to tolerance cannot stop it from fostering intolerance.But Benetton’s previous ads haven’t all been about religion or politics. There have been allusions to racism — three hearts (which were actually pig hearts) with the words “white,” “black” and “yellow” — as well as war and capital punishment. In early 2000, Benetton’s “We, on Death Row” ads had featured death row inmates. Victims-rights groups were appalled, spurring Sears to pull an exclusive line of Benetton clothing from its stores.Then there was the 1990 photo by Therese Frare that became a company ad. It showed a deathbed scene with AIDS activist David Kirby as he was dying of the illness. That photo stirred controversy as well — with its similarity to a pietà (a  painting or sculpture showing Mary grieving over the body of Christ).Benetton has maintained that its latest campaign aims simply to promote love.Calls and emails to Benetton were not immediately returned Thursday.

Here is an Editorial from another paper : Kiss Me – The Financial Express- Friday, Nov 18, 2011.

When George Bush began his second presidency by casting a Mexican American man, an African-American woman, a white woman and a Cuban American man in key roles, one analyst called it the Benetton-ad presidency. Its impact on the global lexicon is just one example of the vast cultural reach of the multiracial ‘United Colours of Benetton’ campaign. We know it well inIndia, where the brand boasts 400 stores. It has even won praise from the UN. Today, as a new Benetton campaign raises a tide of controversy, we look back and see that there is actually nothing ‘new’ about the current hullabaloo. So, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il and South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak, America’s Barack Obama and China’s Hu Jintao, the Vatican’s Benedict XVI and Cairo’s Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, etc have been photo-shopped into locking lips. The last image has been withdrawn on complaints of “the unacceptable use” of his Holy Father’s image manipulated with a commercial purpose. Commentators have been climbing over each other to dismiss the campaign as a simplistic ploy to flag the sagging fortunes of a brand that’s been losing ground to the likes of H&M and Zara—because it failed to keep up with new technologies, fabric innovations, fast-fashion trends and leaner management solutions.Now flash back to the early 1990s, to Benetton ads with a black man and a white woman handcuffed together, a priest kissing a nun, an emaciated anorexia patient and a skeletal Aids victim. Each of those created tensions, and a conversation about the relationship of advertising to raising awareness, going ‘viral’ before social media went virtual. Today, we are spammed by digital manipulations dozens of time a day, and we are still fussing away at Benetton, which is still defending itself as only trying to promote reconciliation. The great Oliviero Toscani, who really breathed life into the company’s iconography, once said: “It shouldn’t be the photos that shock, but the reality.” Where reconciliation is chimeric.

My take on the above is that creating a controversy, gets you mileage but you lose the respect and loyalty of your regular consumers/customers.

I have an old  collection of some really funny quotes on the subject of KISS and I will be posting it tomorrow separately.

Till then, read , smile and kiss someone who reciprocates without much ado….!


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