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Benetton's new ad campaign: Can anything still shock us?

November 17, 2011 |  5:45 pm

Benetton's new ad campaign
Sure, the Benetton clothing company has earned the ire of the Vatican, with its doctored photo of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a high-level Egyptian imam — on the lips. (Benetton withdrew the ad soon after the Vatican said the image was unacceptable provocation and that it  was taking legal action.)

PHOTOS: Benetton's ad campaign posters

But, really, is this a surprise to anyone? Need we remind fashionistas about the company’s “shock advertising” campaign of the 1990s — photos of  a waterfowl stuck in an oil slick, a human body stamped “HIV positive” and child laborers in the Third World, all bearing the slogan “United Colors of Benetton.” And who could forget Mexican guerrilla leader Subcomandante Marcos appearing in an issue of Benetton’s Colors magazine? Or the use of photos of and interviews with Death Row inmates in a 96-page magazine that included images of a company logo? (Benetton called it a catalog but there were no photos of clothing …. and the attorney general for the state of Missouri was not amused.)  The company insisted the publication was created to spark debate on capital punishment.

Next thing you know, Benetton will post images of Vice President Joe Biden and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor agreeing on spending cuts.  Now that would be some shock advertising.


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-- Alice Short

Photo: A photo montage that’s part of Benetton’s provocative new ad campaign is shown  in its shop in front of the Trevi fountain in Rome. Credit: Tiziana Fabi / AFP/ Getty Images.