Column: Benetton ads? Big whoop

November 17, 2011|By Jessica Cantarelli, RedEye

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? More like, try again, copycats.

A controversial new ad campaign from the Benetton group was making the rounds online this week. It's on par with the fashion house's past attempts at using their ads to communicate a wider, more "wordly" message, and it is certainly hard to miss.

The ad, which is a slideshow of various international politicians shown engaged in faux lip locks, has a message of "Unhate" attached.

Scrolling through smooches between opposing political leaders is bound to attract attention the company is seeking, no doubt, but exactly what kind of attention is another story.

Ok, Benetton, we get it—you're edgy.

Are jaws supposed to drop at the sight of two men kissing? Is it supposed to make everyone perk up about homosexuality and international conflict?

Whatever the case, it's been done before.

Does anyone remember the "Fraternal Kiss" mural on the Berlin Wall? Probably not. It's one of my most favorite iconic images next to Marilyn Monroe preventing her skirt from being blown up (just kidding, I hate that thing). The mural depicts German communist politician Erich Honecker planting a wet one on Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Trust me, it's hot.

Benetton's ad campaigns from the past might not have been quite as provocative or agenda-driven as "Unhate" is, but it seems too far-fetched and hopeful for any of us living in the real world.

The idea of politicians putting their differences aside and being puckering pals is a nice one, but what are the chances? It's all too ballsy for a company that just wants to sell a plain Jane cardigan and a preppy blouse.

What I want to see is Kim Jong-il making out with Moammar Gadhafi. So what if one's dead? Those are the best dressed dictators of our generation, hands down.

You might get the few seconds of "ohmygod," you were hoping for, Benetton, but my guess is everyone will quickly dismiss your Photoshop skills.

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