Benetton Campaign Uses Digital Manipulation to Stir Controversy (Again)

A digital manipulation of Obama kissing Hugo Chavez for Benetton's new "unhate" campaign.

File this under Marketers Who Will Do Anything to Sell Product: Benetton has unveiled a new ad campaign that includes an image of Barack Obama in a lip lock with Chinese leader Hu Jintao, another image of Obama kissing Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, and several other images of different world leaders kissing each other on the lips.

The images are part of the clothing brand’s new “Unhate” campaign, which it unveiled today in Paris and other cities.

Alessandro Benetton, who is the company’s executive deputy chairman, says Benetton means no disrespect to the world leaders, whose passionate kisses are obviously the handiwork of digital retouchers.

“We consider [the leaders] ‘conception figures’ making a statement of brotherhood with a kiss,” he said in an interview, according to the Times of India.

Yeah, yeah. Whatever.

Back in the 90s, Benetton created ad campaigns with controversial images– including a photograph of a nun kissing a priest–to attract attention by whipping up social controversy.

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