Fashion house United Colors of Benetton is relying on its latest campaign to generate buzz for the brand now that it has unveiled its first major brand advertising campaign in more than a decade, titled "Unhate." Mr. Benetton says it was inspired by a kiss caught on camera between Soviet leaderand East German communist leader Erich Honecker in 1979.
The images are of global leaders kissing: U.S. President Barack Obama locks lips with China's Hu Jintao and with Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. A picture of the pope embracing one of Islam's leading figures, Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, the imam of the al-Azhar mosque in Egypt, was hung from a bridge near the Vatican early Wednesday.
The Vatican on Wednesday protested the campaign, suggesting that the unauthorized and "manipulative" use of the pope's picture in the photo montage was "totally unacceptable" and suggested it might take legal action against the company. A large banner with the image of the pope and the imam was hung from a bridge near the Vatican on Wednesday morning before it was removed.
Benetton made a name for itself in the early 1980s with advertising campaigns created by Oliviero Toscani. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Toscani created the first of his multiracial campaigns with the "United Colors of Benetton" slogan-a message that loosely tied into its innovative use of color in knitwear. A decade later, Benetton moved onto more controversial topics-AIDS, Gulf War casualties-that were more distant from the products in its stores. It culminated with a 2000 campaign that depicted death row inmates in a campaign against the death penalty.