Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kiss, Unhate and Wear UCB

Benetton, the Italian retail giant does it again. The group is known for their shock advertising over the years - remember the powerful United Colors of Benetton campaign that was so successful that it was incorporated as a brand name!
The posters showing children from different ethnic origins, three hearts of the same color but from differently colored people, or the white baby suckling on the breasts of a black woman – all of these had a novelty, a recall value and a “shock” factor that was admirable. 

However, this time with the Unhate campaign, I wonder has UCB overreached itself? I am not sure of the answer. The advertisements on huge billboards show world leaders smooching – for example,  we have the Pope kissing the Imam and Obama kissing Hu Jintao…

Apparently, in public interest, the company abstained from showing Manmohan Singh smooching Asif Ali Zardari – Now that would have been something! 

The advertisement campaign is sensational, provocative, and as many have termed it, scandalous and outrageous. Vatican found the campaign so insulting that Benetton had to pull the Pope's ad down. 

What do I think of the ads? Creative, very. You cannot not notice it.
I’d take the company’s plea that this is a genuine effort to spread love and “unhate” in this world, with a pinch of salt and good humor – oh c’mon – this is money, marketing and business sense – and they achieved all the attention that they chose to sought. So kudos, well done.  

Now, about many people having raised objection to the immorality of the campaign,  is also hog-wash as far as I am concerned – you see it, you like it, go shop at Benetton – you hate it, don’t shop at Benetton. 

However, the one small concern that I have with t his campaign is that the pictures used have been digitally morphed without the permission of the person concerned. Forget world leaders, would any ‘commoner’ – you and me - be happy or even okay with their photograph blown up in a seemingly unparliamentary light and posted across countries.  I am not sure if I would be comfortable with that. How do you then justify criminal action against Internet hackers and artists who use morphed images of actors and actresses to create pornographic content? The means are the same!

I’d leave it to the ad gurus and experts to talk about the legal aspects of such actions, but what do you think? UCB has gone overboard this time – or is it a no big deal?

[Image source: Google Images]


  1. :O But, I agree that's a very smart ad!

    I agree it is legal legal issue but look at the message with a neutral eye. Why be so uptight about it? Any unknown face would raise more questions at the objective of the ads but bt looking at worlds leaders the message is loud and clear!

    Nice post!

  2. it is a very smart ad, no doubt!

  3. but could they have used cartooon caricatures instead? i dont know - maybe the impact wouldn't be soo much then!

  4. The ethical issue of using the picture without their permission could be dangerous for UCB, I think.

    But personally I love the ads. A man kissing a man is a nice slap in the face for all the homophobes out there.

    Love your take on it!

    P.S: cartoons would have made it so much more ethical :-)

  5. @Towards Harmony - thank u! And I was thinking on the same lines about the use of cartoons instead!
    And that man kissing man bit - yes, you are so right!

  6. No objections have been heard, I think maybe it's only the Indian politicians who take themselves too seriously.
    I think the ad would have looked very drab if these were just two random men, what makes it special and meaningful is who the man are.

  7. agree to the effectiveness of the campaign but just that was not sure of the use of morphed images - no denying on the strong meaning :)!

  8. I personally don't find them disgusting!


I appreciate you taking out the time to share your valuable opinions! They mean a lot!


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