United Colours of Benetton will launch their Unhate campaign this week. The streets of Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Paris, Rome and New York will be postered with images of high profile and controversial political leaders pashing. Supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il and President of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak lock lips, as do the Pope and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and Barack Obama and the Chinese president Hu Jintao. Here they are:
When photographer Oliviero Toscani was given full power over Benetton's marketing campaigns in the early 1980's he began breaking down barriers between fashion and politics, using the sizable marketing platform Benetton had at their disposal to promote liberal messages on controversial subjects. A person dying from AIDS, bloodied newborn babies, prisoners of inmates on death row, collages of genitals of various races are just some of the campaigns activated during this time. They were controversial to the point where in 1991 a campaign received 800 complaints to the British Advertising Standards Authority and as a result appears in the Guiness Book of World Records 2000 as the 'Most Controversial Campaign'. It's really important that companies with this much power to influence the public use their advertising avenues in a smart and progressive way, and United Colours of Bennetton opened the doors for what was possible. Here are a few of the most poignant campaigns from their back-catalogue.