United Colors of Benetton Controversial Unhate Campaign
Italian clothing giant, United Colors of Benetton, fronted by Alessandro Benetton, released an extremely controverisal campaign worldwide on November 16, 2011. Their Unhate campaign "seeks to contribute to the creation of a new culture of tolerance, to combat hatred, building on Benetton’s underpinning values" as stated in their press release.
The campaign involves Photoshopped images of rival world leaders, lip locking in front of the camera. In some cases, the images of are same-sex leaders, such as US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. The most shocking image of all is that of the Pope kissing Egyptian imam Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb. The Vatican was outraged, stating the photo was unacceptable. In response, the Company withdrew the image in their campaign.
The images were unveiled in "a plan of unannounced live actions" by groups of young people around the world in Milan, Rome, Paris, New York, and Tel Aviv.
About the Campaign
The Unhate campaign is aimed to send the message to stop hate around the world. The Company hopes to promote what they call "a shift in the balance: don't hate, unhate". They hope to see global love and acceptance by allowing the public to post messages of love on via social media networks like Twitter.
United Colors of Benetton hope to promote tolerance by supporting projects around the world. For example, Cuban artist Erik Ravelo's hopes to create a 4 metre Unhate Dove, made of recycled war bullets, carrying a message of tolerance will be donated to a country with recent conflicts.
The company also partners with Fabrica to support young people of the arts who are living in areas of the world with conflict. They hope the campaign will support them to express their creativity in art and music.
Some skeptics believe the photographic campaign is a ploy to sell clothing for the retailer, especially as the images were released in the weeks coming up to Christmas.
How to Get Involved
United Colors of Benetton is inviting you to become involved in their campaign by posting on their website or twitter. Add hashtag #unhate for your tweet to be added to their live feed. You can also upload images to their website of your own Unhate photo.