I’m sure if you’re in the marketing and advertising world, you would have heard of the controversy that recent Benetton advertising has stirred up. A lot of mixed opinions out there – varying from “This is unenccessary controversy” to “Benetton is doing what it always does” –
I’m a great fan of controversial advertising, I mean my admiration of the old Barnardo’s ad (remember the one with the baby and heroin?) has intrigued me into this world of communicaiton at the age of 14 – so I guess I am slightly bias.
Benetton’s advertising has always been an expression of our time, where divisions and hatred happens – and this latest one is about hatred going on in the world of today’s politicians, faiths and cultures – and uniting them nevertheless with a kiss! The example below is Obama kissing the President of Venezuela. The one that is not here is Pope kissing a Muslim Imman on the lips…
The images are so strong that of course it will offend a lot of people, but then isn’t it the manifesto of Benetton? Shedding a light into today’s divisions and uniting them in their posters? And if they treaded more carefully, by choosing a less heart-crunching image, such as them hugging, I’m not sure it would have the same effect.
This ad has been refused a run on a lot of media channels, but it has been covered with PR so widely that it probably would have outrun awareness a bought media could bring.
Do not worry, the social aspect of the campaign is much softer, and cuter –
They are running a Kiss of Wall in social media, where people can upload their kissing pictures – will have to watch that one closely! To me the social aspect of the campaign is so much softer than the executions we see below, it brings me back to when they put babies from all colours and ethnicities into one poster. To me that promoted ‘united’ without having to cause such stir and controversy (although it was more controversial at the time, to unite all ethnicites) – babies are always disalarming (and too many advertising involving them now – hello Evian!). But with times as politics/religion get tougher, people more thick-skinned and unision of people globally via internet, it needs extra measures to shock people out of the shelves. And this Benetton ad has done it – but I can’t help but feel (yes, this is the pin I’m sticking in it now!) if you are going to cause such stir, and such controversy, for a great reason of promoting unhatred, why not back is up with some pledges and actions? Why tip your toe in the water of politics/religion but not have a space where people we discuss it?.. To me that is a lack of sustainability which I fear will have Benetton on rocky grounds with us all..