Thursday, November 17, 2011

UNHATE - Who else would like to see Aoun kissing Geagea, or Nasrallah kissing Hariri on the lips?

Actually, I don't want to see that. Nevertheless I'd like to see opposites trying to genuinely be friendly with each other because they genuinely care about this country. Yes, I used the word genuine twice in the same sentence. Genuine? Does anyone even know what genuine is?

The Italian clothes company launched a campaign called 'Unhate' in which leaders from opposite sides of the political and religious divide appear to exchange kisses. 

"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," said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's spokesman.

There were more "digitally manipulated" photos of Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmud Abbas, Sarcozy and Merkel (hot hot), Obama and Hu Jintao (his Chinese counterpart). Benetton are known for their controversial ads, which for 18 years between 1982 and 2000 they were led by Oliviero Toscani

The campaign stirred up a storm of controversy: the state of Missouri sued Toscani and Benetton for misrepresenting themselves while interviewing four death row inmates in that state. Protests from uneasy consumers and from the families of the inmates' victims prompted retailing giant Sears, Roebuck & Co., to unceremoniously drop the profitable Benetton line.

So they were sued, and they might be sued again. 

Tell me your opinion
What do you think of such a strong controversial and 'offending to some' campaign? Are they just attention whores (they succeeded 'coz we're talking about them) and simply making an ad to draw attention to themselves as "Benetton", or are they really focusing on a new issue in this world that has been filled with hatred (probably as much as it was 200 years or 2000 years ago, however media nowadays helps emphasize, magnifies and "importanticize" this universal, historical and existing emotion we've had around the world) yet wanting to make a change by imprinting a strong impact and causing provocation?

And what will be the reaction if something like this was adapted on Lebanese politicians?

Finally, I want to thank my colleagues at work for sharing very interesting stories, links and their POVs. This is totally thanks to them.

p.s. this campaign is to support the unhate foundation.

Post Updated: And it has been done, the parody of UNHATE campaign applied on Lebanese politics, United Colors of Lebanon. Photo of Geagea and Aoun kissing. I did not display it, but you can click on it and see it. Up to you :) There is another one as well of Nasrallah and Hariri, somewhere on the web.


  1. I think it is a very powerful campaign
    it got a lot (A LOT) of a attention and reaction
    The shock factor was successful since it made people consider looking and thinking of the content.
    Somehow I agree with the Vatican's statement. It would have been better with a kiss on the cheek (because this kiss doesnt prove much but that they are gay-fully in love)
    and unless its a NOH8 campaign ( the french kiss isn't that essential (and it applies to others too, but since they aren't "sacred" figures, no one complained about it)

    whether they are doing it just for attention or to serve their message, they have successfully shown the link between BENETON and the UnHate Foundation

  2. I don't see why it should be a kiss on the lips.. A simple hug or hand holding would have sent the same message.. (And could actually be used in the Lebanese context)

    The "shock factor" was not needed for the campaign's message to go through. In fact it changed the conversation from the message to the form of the message. The Benetton Corporation clearly needed the shock factor to remind people of its brand.

  3. Mustapha, actually a handshake or simple hug would have not generated this much buzz. Yes they want to send a message but am so sure that their budget is not intended just to help the unhate foundation counter to promoting themselves, no?

  4. to keep it short and sweeet - the 'shock factor' is what is intended and in my opinion it works. Would definitely love to see the crazy Dr. G. kissing the ClAoun and saksouk wielding Hariri frenching Nasrallah.

  5. I really didn't like it! a small hug or a kiss on cheek would work out as well!

  6. The problem for me is that I don't see anything original here, remember the unification of the two Germany's and the fall of the Berlin Wall? When Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kissed his East German counterpart Erich Honecker (painted in 1990, just months after the Wall was officially declared open)

  7. well.. it is not about the intimacy or position of the Kiss.
    Clearly BENETTON wanted attention in this publicity, and like they say "Bad Publicity is good Publicity". Also, Bad is relative.
    But this AD does not show Fashion in any sense.
    And i don't want to have this new perspective that BENETTON is now working on peace and activism and fighting homophobia, i want to see their new fashion collection (period.)
    It may not be a Bad Ad, but i believe it is irrelevant and out of context.

  8. "Hand holding" as in romantic hand holding, not "hand shake". You misunderstood me.

  9. Mohamad, thanks for sharing the link. They are mimicking indeed, but I guess Social Media and the whole viral stuff are a 2010-2011 thingie with more impact than 1995 traditional painting on a wall.

    Racha, interesting POV, I did not consider that. But we are noticing many brands who are "adopting" causes nowadays, not even causes, sometimes lifestyles, that have nothing to do with what they sell.

  10. Mustapha, hehe yeah that would be cool, hand holding with like a trail of trees on two sides with sunset... HMMMMMMMM interesting

  11. Well then why don't they adopt causes and blend it in their own smart way with fashion? it just doesn't make any sense..

  12. My first impression was that it was an "unhate" campaign towards homosexuality, and that any person no matter who, could be gay :)
    The point of this campaign to do exactly what it's doing now, send out a message in the only way it would attract the audience i.e. shock. A handshake would not grab any attention, it would just be like any other photo on any newspaper.Moderation never attracts people. I say people just take note of the good message intended and move on, we all know the purpose was not to disrespect anyone. Over-analyzing will not lead to anything but more exposure to Benetton and less attention to their intent. (and probably a few fatwas to ban the brand )

  13. It definitely got a reaction but now what? The campaign doesn't have any real, tangible goals apart from a vague plan to develop more tolerance in the world.

    CSR campaigns are generally a nice glittery table cloth masking the hard reality underneath which is 'we want you to buy our stuff'.

    I'm skeptical to be honest. And personally, I would be offended if my photo was taken without my permission, digitally altered so that I'm sharing an intimate embrace with someone else and then broadcast to the world with the ultimate goal of feeding my bottom line.

    That's just me though. Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

  14. I think the Unhate Benetton campaign may do the opposite & spread hate. On the ground local communities will feel da impact as reactions will immediately blame the LGBT community. One way that Benetton could implement it's campaign is to locally work in communities by building schools, hospitals, etc. Perhaps take all the money they spent for this campaign and help feed those starving in Somalia.

  15. They are getting so much free press it was worth it!

    Just google: "benetton campaign" and you'll know what I am talking about.

    They have 871,000 fans (Wish i knew how much they were before campaign).

    Check out the stock prices of Benetton Group SPA, this campaign just might revive a dying brand? Shares plummeted from $11 to less than $4 in 5 years.. Some food for thought :)

    (Click on 5 year tab)

    2 thumbs up to the agency who convinced the client to go this route!

  16. And the Vatican is (unsurprisingly) pissed.

  17. I think that this campaign was absolutely brilliant! For those who say that the kiss was uncalled for, I think it is this factor that truly tipped it over the edge and got people to notice. We have been desensitized these days to anything other than the most sensational. Fantastic campaign..I wish I would've been on the creative team who came up with concept.