“Unhate”; Benetton vs. Politics

17 Nov

Last night, I was in my class where we discussed various topics around stereotypes, prejudice, perception and their role in communications… Obviously, since this was in an academic setting, we had to depend on scientific studies & research to validate each theory.

The American Jewish Committee sponsored a study that used satire; using irony, sarcasm… to disapprove & criticize something, to investigate the effects of antiprejudice cartoons using an exaggerated figure named “Mr. Biggott”.

The cartoon appeared in situations designed to make prejudice appear ridiculous. For instance, one cartoon showed Mr. Biggott lying in a hospital bed & dying. He is saying to the doctor, “In case I should need a transfusion, doctor, I want to make certain I don’t get anything but blue, sixth-generation American blood!” The intention was that people looking at the cartoon would see how ridiculous prejudice is & would lessen their own feelings of prejudice.

After testing the cartoons on 160 white, non-Jewish workingclass men, about two-thirds of them misunderstood the cartoons. Some said the purpose of the cartoons was to legitimize prejudice. 

The research found that cartoons were most likely to be understood by respondents low in prejudice and most likely to be misunderstood by respondents high in prejudice.

Before I get you bored by all these academic info, I found an advertising campaign by Benetton that I felt could carry a similar message . The campaign is called ‘Unhate’ & features world leaders FRENCH KISSING their counterparts…. or is it their enemies?? Just making assumption here!!! Thankfully, these controversial ads were only  launched in Italy!

Based on the above research, since satire didn’t help in reducing prejudice, do you think the Art Director is trying to prove otherwise?  Or is it purely to increase Benetton’s sales? Is it considered a creative/shocking approach to attract attention? Is it disgusting? Will it insult some cultures that disapprove homosexuality? Is there a sexual implication? Will this campaign succeed? 

Personally, a million questions ran through in my head when I saw the ads; good & bad… I would love to hear your thoughts.   

L’

US President Barack Obama with Chinese President Hu Jintao

 

US President Barack Obama with Chinese President Hu Jintao

 

France President Nicolas Sarkozy with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

 

Pope Benedict XVI with Egyptian Imam of Al-Azhar Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb

 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il with President of South Korea Lee Myung-bak

 

Palestian President Mahmoud Abbas & Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

 

P.S. The research mentioned above was taken from a book titled “Communications Theories; Origins, Methods, and Uses in the Mass Media”, Fourth edition.   

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