Controversial Advertising: Did these advertisers go too far with this message? Or was this a perfect vehicle to provoke discussion?
Benetton tears down pope-kissing ads after Vatican legal threat
The Vatican is taking legal action to prevent further distribution or publication of an image of the pope kissing a Muslim leader, after it was used as part of an advertising campaign for clothing company Benetton.
The poster, which briefly appeared in various locations around Italy before being hastily withdrawn after the Vatican’s outcry, carries a picture of Benedict XVI doctored to show him kissing Mohammed Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand sheikh of al-Azhar mosque in Cairo.
There has been tension between the two religious leaders since January, when Egypt recalled its ambassador to the Holy See for what it called “unacceptable interference in its internal affairs” when the pope appeared to criticise the government for failing to protect Christian minorities.
In uncharacteristically swift fashion, and in forthright language, the Vatican condemned the picture hours after it surfaced and announced a crackdown on its wider use.
Press secretary Father Federico Lombardi said: “We cannot but express a resolute protest at the entirely unacceptable use of a manipulated image of the Holy Father, used as part of a publicity campaign which has commercial ends.
“It is a serious lack of respect for the pope, an affront to the feelings of the faithful and an evident demonstration of how, in the field ofadvertising, the most elemental rules of respect for others can be broken in order to attract attention by provocation.”