Benetton Pulls Pope Kissing Imam, India kissing Pakistan Posters in Ad Campaign (Video)

Italian sweater company Benetton has pulled a poster of the Pope kissing an Egyptian Iman. And it reportedly shelved a kiss between Pakistan’s and India’s leaders.

The company has a long history of using provocative advertising campaigns as their Unique Selling Point (USP). In the 80s a poster of a dying person with AIDS caused enormous controversy but was credited with transforming the public’s perception of people living with AIDS. Another in the 90s of a baby, bloodied with umbilical cord attached, drew the most complaints ever to the British Advertising Standards Authority. Kissing isn’t new either, a 90s poster had a nun and a priest kissing.

The brand was one of the first to feature multicultural models in its advertising and to have its own magazine, ‘Colors’.

The new photoshopped campaign, ‘UnHate‘, features President Obama kissing Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, the North and South Korean leaders and in the only opposite gender ‘kiss’German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy.

The Pope is kissing Sheik Ahmed el Tayeb, who earlier in the year stopped talking with the Vatican after the Pope condemned widespread violence and discrimination against Christian minorities in predominately Muslim countries.

The Vatican complained about “a serious lack of respect for the Pope”, and Benetton immediately withdrew the posters.

Alessandro Benetton said the images were meant to promote the idea of “unhate” (“which is not as utopian as love”) and should not be seen in a physical or sexual context.

The posters are  “symbolic images of reconciliation – with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation – to stimulate reflection on how politics, faith and ideas, when they are divergent and mutually opposed, must still lead to dialogue and mediation” Benetton says.

But fashion watchers say that it is a bit late for what is now a tired brand, overtaken by others.

Says The Independent:

The trouble is, in the shifting sands of what’s hot and what’s not, brands can’t just hang in there waiting for their USP to come round again.

Picture from Benetton 'UnHate'


Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago


Rebeca C.
Rebeca c6 years ago

I was sorry to hear Bennetton "broke" and pulled the ad. I think the complaints where homophobic, I think the idea was great and the pictures where obviously not real, and it was artistic expression and the freedom for artistic expression is going to be cut everytime some PUBLIC figure feels uncomfortable that is not freedom. I bet this thing was a homophobic issue.. Why is the Pope more worried abut people thinking hi has made peace with his enemies but not when his priests support cruelty such as bullfighting.?

monica r.
monica r6 years ago

I agree with Blanc M. I didn't think of that myself, but those are really good points.

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon6 years ago

Oh please, hardly anyone would think this was a real photograph. Personally, I think it's a pretty good image for what the christian christmas is, according to christians themselves, supposed to be about.

Sandra D.
Sandra D6 years ago


Monica K.
Monica K6 years ago

This is an AD! Companies will do anything to get your attention. Don't mistake it for social commentary or altruism, they don't spend millions of dollars on those! They are trying to sell something and it isn't "unhate". If they thought bloody pictures of genocide in Africa would make you buy their product, that's what their ads would depict! Advertising is getting more and more extreme, from sexualized little girls to crap like this - and oh, LOOK, we're talking about it! The name of the company is now firmly planted in your brain -success!

BLANC Michelle
Michelle BLANC6 years ago

personnellement ,certaines personnes diront que j' ai l'esprit obtu , mais désolée, je n'ai pas du tout le sens de l'humour lorsque de telles photos sont publiées, mais si elles sont truquées, je n'apprécie pas du tout ce genre de plaisanterie ;pour des millions de gens la religion s'est sacré et des millions de gens sont morts ou torturés dans le passé à cause de la religion ,donc non je n'apprécie pas. Sous prétexte de l'humour il faudrait tout accepter, moi je dis non. Notre monde est assez pourri comme cela pourquoi en rajouter. à tout prix. Quel impact cette photo ignoble a t'elle eu sur les enfants qui ne savent pas faire la différence entre la réalité et le mensonge. J'ai été choquée malgré qu'il y a bien longtemps que j'ai cessé de croire

Jane Barton
Jane Barton6 years ago

I just wanted to make a point. ;)

Unnikrishnan Sasi

It;s ok