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brands with a cause
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 17, 2011 12:31 PM
Just after the Unhate campaign — a global call to action to combat the “culture of hatred” by Italian fashion retailer Benetton — launched in Paris yesterday, a swift rebuke from the Vatican showed it had struck a nerve.
Benetton's digitally created imagery included a billboard showing Pope Benedict XVI kissing Mohammed Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand sheikh of al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, the most important and moderate centre for Sunni Islamic studies in the world. According to The Guardian, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi criticised the clothing company for exploiting the pope's image as part of the Unhate campaign's doctored series of images of political and religious leaders locking lips:
"We must express the firmest protest for this absolutely unacceptable use of the image of the Holy Father, manipulated and exploited in a publicity campaign with commercial ends. This shows a grave lack of respect for the pope, an offence to the feelings of believers, a clear demonstration of how publicity can violate the basic rules of respect for people by attracting attention with provocation."
Benetton pulled the unholy papal smooch ad (having separately pulled another image showing now-resigned Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi kissing Angela Merkel). The brand responded to the papal rebuke by saying it was sorry the picture "had so hurt the sensibilities of the faithful." The brand surprised some observers by capitulating — which it may not have done back in the days when its advertising delighted in being an in-your-face "subverter of stereotypes."
The Vatican, meanwhile, is reportedly still planning to sue Benetton to make sure the controversial image takes a permanent vow of silence.Continue reading...