Friday, November 18, 2011

More controversy from a clothing company: Benetton

My previous blog post was about the Abercrombie & Finch PR Stunt, tame in comparison to the advertising campaign that Benetton comprised this past week.
A few days ago the Benetton, Italy based clothing company, released their latest advertising campaign, calling it the Unhate campaign, launched at fostering tolerance and “global love.”  
The advertising campaign has received quite a bit of heat after the company featured fake images of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a top Egyptian imam on the lips, along with many other images of politicians kissing. The images were noted as being unacceptable provocation and were pulled from circulation and the company’s website within hours of the Vatican’s protest.
A spokesperson from the Benetton clothing company confirmed that the images were removed from their site, and that the image of the Pope-imam ad will no longer be part of their campaign. In a statement, the company said they were sorry that the image offended the faithful. (I’m sorry but what did they expect to happen when they release images like that to the public?)
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi called the ad an “unacceptable” manipulation of the pope’s likeness that offended the religious sentiment of the faithful.
Lombardi notes the images as “showing a lack of respect for the pope.”
Shocking advertisements have long been a part of Benetton’s publicity strategy, and the company notes the images of political and religious leaders kissing were “symbolic images of reconciliation – with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation – to stimulate reflection oh how policies, faith and ideas, when they are divergent and mutually opposed, must still lead to dialogue and mediation.”
Is this a good example of any PR is good PR, or did the company take this too far?
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