UCB's Unhate Campaign

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 3003 , Published on 04 March 2012
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The world famous apparel brand United Colors of Benetton, has been forced to pull its controversial peace ad campaign off the air. United Colors is a brand that has been known to have controversial and hard-hitting advertising campaigns, and this yet another one, that has created more ripples than ever before.

Unhate Campaign

The ad shows various political and religious leaders of the likes of the Pope, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy, Hi Jintao, Huga Chavez, etc kissing each other. No wonder, these are digitally engineered photographs.

So, this brand is having survival issues, and it then comes up with a world peace campaign, which is bound to raise eyebrows and cause suspicion as a way of seeking publicity and attention. But the company holds its own stead and claims the ad is all about peace and love.

If we check the history of advertising of the company, we realize that the company’s ad campaigns have always felt the heat of controversies. Be it the white baby suckling the breast of a black lady, the hearts of three different races, the black stallion mounting a white mare, the hands of a white and a black man handcuffed together, etc. All have been regarded as highly controversial. This new one is no different. However, the another thing common to all these ads , apart from the controversy bit, is that they all had the hidden and deep-rooted message of unity embedded within them. Looked at from another direction, the ads the company runs are highly powerful and make the world stop and notice them.

The timing of the “Unhate” couldn’t be better than now. At a time, when the world today, is reeling from universal crisis – from the Wall Street of USA, to the Opera Hall of Sydney, and from the Acropolis in Greece to the Gold mines of South Africa. At such times, the world leaders need to rise above their boundaries and domestic politics, and work towards world peace. Kissing is no more a taboo in most countries where the campaign has been launched. Benetton is not the first brand that has portrayed people kissing in its ad campaign, and all this furore is only because the people involved in kissing.

The new campaign has furthered Benetton’s image as a maverick brand. The brand is entirely unconventional and different from the other brands who generally brag about the coolness quotient and style of their garments, the fabric used the designs in tandem with the latest trends, etc.

Critics have claimed that such campaigns can grab eyeballs immediately, but holding on to the attention captured, and translating that into sales figures, is not an easy job. This could be true, but wouldn’t the campaign establish Benetton as a revolutionary maverick brand? History bears testimony that so many companies have done publicity gimmicks to boost their top lines but have obtained limited success. Marketers over the ages have been accused of playing with the worst instincts of the people, so if there is a bran who is probing a social issue through its campaign, what’s the harm?

The people are failing to see the liberal subtext of tolerance and brotherhood among the various nations, faiths and communities. I feel, that the campaign portrays through its images that hatred can’t exist in a part of them without affecting all the people they represent. And if Benetton wishes to remind the people to love each other while buying up their scarves and sweaters, then I don’t think I would mind buying one!

This article has been authored by Bhavi Patel from IRMA


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