When rebrands go wrong

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Obama and Chávez kiss in Benetton ad

Benetton is launching its first major global brand campaign in a decade with advertisements showing political and religious leaders from different divides kissing.


An image of US President Barack Obama and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez embracing is one of several pairings the fashion brand will use in its UNHATE activity, which aims to demonstrate that “hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world”.

The campaign, which the company claims is “constructive provocation”, comes more than twenty years after its “United Colours…” activity caused controversy by depicting images that played on race, gender and religious stereotypes.

United Colors of Benetton was a leading European fashion brand in the 1980s but has since lost its position to brands such as Zara, Topshop, Gap and H&M.

Others seen “reconciling” their differences in the UNHATE campaign include Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyah, while Pope Benedict XVI is seen demonstrating the “most universal symbol of love” with Muslim leader Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • My first reaction to this is one of amusement and then the rational mind takes over. What is the freedom of expression? Declaration of rights of Man and of the Citizen "The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law." What I see in this photograph is implicitly expected to be free expression of an individual. But many will find it to be offensive. However, if the same expression was published using caricatures instead of a real photographs, would have probably been less offensive. We usually expect photographs to communicate the truth and not an artist's 'touched up' expression. Therein lies the problem with such an image - our perception of what a photograph communicates - a factual instant of time, versus an expression of an individual. I, for one, would not want to see my profile in place of either of the two heads.

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