“What does UNHATE mean? UN-hate. Stop hating, if you were hating. Unhate is a message that invites us to consider that hate and love are not as far away from each other as we think. Actually, the two opposing sentiments are often in a delicate and unstable balance. Our campaign promotes a shift in the balance: don’t hate, Unhate.”
The lines above describe a campaign that has taken the whole world by storm since yesterday– the UNHATE campaign by United Colors of Benetton. Known for its edgy advertising, the Italian clothing brand has does it again with a campaign comprising of six images showing leaders of nations like Barack Obama and Hu Jintao, Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, Pope Benedict XVI and Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestine's Mahmoud Abbas getting into a lip-lock. Though the campaign has been renounced by few publications, social media and television around the world has lapped it up, giving Benetton a hype it much needed after losing out to competition.
The campaign that did not spare even the Pope has somehow left the two most important nations in this context – India and Pakistan. Benetton Officials as per media reports said that though the idea was considered, it never got to an advanced state considering cultural sensitivities.
Talking to worldwide press while unveiling the campaign in Paris, Alessandro Benetton, Executive Deputy Chairman of Benetton group also stated clearly that while the campaign is deliberately strong it is not provocative. He insisted that the world looks at the intent and not just the images.
So how are the idea creators in India looking at UNHATE? Take a look:
K V Sridhar: National Creative Director, Leo Burnett
Shock With A Good Message: If this campaign was done by TATA, it would have been shocking. But Benetton has always done controversial, different hues of life like advertising. That’s their personality – it stands true to the brand. I really loved the campaign. It hits it right. If they showed Barack Obama and Hu Jintao shaking hands, would you and I be talking about it? NO. It is the smooch that brings that shockwave and also conveys the message strongly. I love the intention behind the campaign and you have to see it that way. Benetton has stood for something which is good for the brand. Hatred is the cause for so many evils. But the shock treatment works as long as there is a message in that. UNHATE campaign gives a message which holds a lot of relevance in the world we are living today. Why should there be Hate?
Jagdish Acharya: Founder, Cut the Crap
Ephemeral But Long Lasting: The brand might be taking off the campaign if there are too many protests, but it has already done its work. Benetton will be remembered for this campaign forever even if the images are taken off. Unhate has done what Benetton would have desired from it. It shared it once and now the world is sharing it. That’s enough to speak about the effectiveness of the campaign.
Ravi Raghavendra: Executive Creative Director, EuroRSCG
Good Sales Proposition: I absolutely loved the campaign. It’s rich, it’s meaningful and that’s the reason the whole world is talking about it. It’s gone viral on internet and Virability of any communication is the biggest asset. The idea is striking a chord with everyone. Benetton has the stature as a brand to pull off something like UNHATE – a global emotion, people would love to relate to than not to. As a consumer if my budget is in the bracket where I can get a UCB or some other good brand, I would definitely go for UCB and nowhere else as it stands for something as a brand. The youth would love it. If they stood for Anna Hazare they will definitely stand for this.
Anindya Banerjee: Executive Creative Director, Scarecrow Communications
Challenge The Competetion: I found the campaign really cool. Benetton is finally getting to what they are good at - edgy advertising. Their campaign with a priest kissing the nun was iconic and is talked about till date. I think finally they are getting back. It is edgy, controversial in some manners, but there is a social message and a strong one - it’s time to make up and Unhate. It was much needed for Benetton to come out with something like this as the brand had sort of lost the recall. This one has gone Viral – I am sure Benetton would be rubbing their hands with glee. Look at the free PR the campaign has got. The campaign supersedes efforts like that of Levis with the Goforth campaign. It will definitely bring Benetton back in reckoning.
Deepak Goel, Founder & CEO, Drizzlin
Indian Context: Benetton had lost in terms of brand recall. In 80’s and 90’s there was a much higher level of awareness. This campaign will cause uproar again. The campaign will get mixed reactions but Benetton must have devised the strategy keeping all of it in mind. The campaign is withdrawing huge response on Social Media so it is great for the brand. But the campaign right now has been made from western consumer point of view, how much traction it will have in India, cannot be said as people may not relate to it. They have left India and Pakistan leaders. That would have created some real stir.
The Indian Unhate Icons
So who would the ad-frat like to see as Indian UNHATE brand ambassadors? Without the intentions of being quoted, Here’s their wish list – which one would you want to see?
Anna Hazare and Sonia Gandhi
Manmohan Singh and Asif Ali Zardari
Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati
Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar
Women Locked inside the Big Boss House