Benetton’s Ad Campaign Leaves Some Furious and Me Laughing

There’s nothing I more enjoy seeing than people pushing the envelope and making a fuss over things controversial to some and trivial to others.

An advertising campaign showing political and religious leaders kissing on the mouth has recently gotten the attention of many important groups. From the White House to the Vatican, many are outraged at photos of these leaders being used as advertising creative.

Benetton, an Italian clothing company, said on its website that the campaign is meant to support the Unhate Foundation, which opposes hate and is “aimed at exorcising the ‘fear of the other.’”

The ‘Unhate’ campaign strikes a chord with the public on many levels. In this way, I deem this campaign incredibly successful already (even bad press is good press, right?). A successful company decides to support an organization whose corporate objectives are to eliminate an abuse that’s incredibly popular in mainstream media today. You can’t turn on a news station or talk show without hearing about bullying.

To oppose the campaign puts you almost in a camp of hate support. To even the most liberal opposer, it suggests that, while you may be against evil in the world, the fact that you’re against a controversial ad talking about it makes your stance moot.

We have satirical political cartoons that go much further than this campaign. Moreover, some of these cartoons challenge authority, condemn inappropriate behavior, even suggest, dare I say it, hate. And yet, we Westerners get by every day without the threat of attack. We get by knowing that these pieces are meant to simply challenge us intellectually. To make us think about some—sometimes—very important issues.

There are real problems in this world. Was showing our President kissing Chinese President Hu Jintao a tasteful way of bringing them to our attention? Right now, I can’t think of a better way.

Author: Eric Swenson

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