Advertising | Catholic Church | News | Pope Benedict | Vatican

Vatican Threatens Benetton Over Ad Featuring Pope Kissing Imam


The new Benetton ad campaign I posted about yesterday has the Vatican furious and they're planning legal action to stop use of an ad featuring Pope Benedict kissing an Imam, Reuters reports:

A statement said the Vatican had told its lawyers in Italy and around the world to "take the proper legal measures" to stop the use of the photo, even in the media. It was not clear from the statement if the Vatican intended to sue Benetton directly for damages.

The statement said the ad was "damaging to not only to dignity of the pope and the Catholic Church but also to the feelings of believers."

Said spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday night: "This is a grave lack of respect for the pope, an offence against the sentiments of the faithful and a clear example of how advertising can violate elementary rules of respect for people in order to attract attention through provocation."

Other ads feature Obama kissing Chinese leader Hu Jintao and Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy kissing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. Ha ha ha. The only thing wrong with that photo is that the poop should have been kissing a little boy instead.

    Posted by: Chip | Nov 17, 2011 9:28:17 AM

  2. They've already dropped the pope ad. Benetton is headquartered in Italy I read.

    Posted by: Mark | Nov 17, 2011 9:32:16 AM

  3. I don't support the pearl clutching that this is some sort of special personal affront to the pope, but it's a pretty crappy and inappropriate thing to do to anyone.

    Using someone's image in an international marketing campaign without their approval and without paying them, especially when it is done is ways that can be reasonably assumed to offend them, is wrong for a lot of reasons.

    Frankly, they SHOULD sue. But they should do it because it's wrong in general, not because the pope is some special snowflake and Catholics are uniquely offended.

    Posted by: Lymis | Nov 17, 2011 9:41:05 AM

  4. @Chip,

    I was about to say but you got to it first. Bravo!

    Posted by: Adrian | Nov 17, 2011 9:46:36 AM

  5. Geez, Ratzinger can't keep his tongue outta other guy's mouths. I'm starting to wonder whether he is a little light in those red Prada shoes.

    Posted by: homer | Nov 17, 2011 9:49:40 AM

  6. Even the Church misconstrues its own message about love, humanity, humbleness. This scene in no way violates any biblical truths or offends anyone’s dignity. Kissing is not inappropriate conduct between anyone. It’s unfortunate when people hate love and any illustration of it. A kiss or a hug is far greater than any act of violence or misguided political action (whether it is from a country, individual, or any religion). It is plain and simple vanity if you ask me. Should we hate the sin but love the sinner this time?

    Posted by: Briartz | Nov 17, 2011 9:49:40 AM

  7. They don't look like they're enjoying it much. Maybe they should
    have been smiling and holding hands. Or had Chi Chi La Rue
    do the photo shoot.

    Posted by: kodiak | Nov 17, 2011 9:54:31 AM

  8. I remember when Benetton used a visual of a man dying from AIDS in the 90's. To shock and get a message across. I hated it then and couldn't believe they would do that to sell sweaters. I even wrote letters to them.
    Now, I know better. Their campaigns are brilliantly subversive. That ad with the face of AIDS ended up bring AIDS and the stigma out of the closet. It also brought some compassion as the guy with AIDS looked very much like a dying Christ figure. I'm not sure it even sold sweaters. These guys know how to cause trouble and get attention.

    Posted by: Pugzz | Nov 17, 2011 10:04:58 AM

  9. The Vatican was threatening to reinstate purgatory if the ad wasn't pulled.

    Posted by: Kevin | Nov 17, 2011 10:05:50 AM

  10. as furious as when little boys get raped?

    Posted by: h | Nov 17, 2011 10:07:46 AM

  11. If il papa was offended, he has no sense of humor. Of course, maybe the picture hit too close to home.

    Posted by: john patrick | Nov 17, 2011 10:09:56 AM

  12. "This is a grave lack of respect for the pope."

    And your point is . . .?. . .

    Three cheers for Benetton.

    Posted by: WebHybrid | Nov 17, 2011 10:11:14 AM

  13. Of course the Vatican objects. Hate is the only thing the Pedophile Church has left to offer.

    Posted by: thomas mc | Nov 17, 2011 10:13:44 AM

  14. I think intent matters a lot here. Reagardless of what you think of Catholics or Muslims, Obama, et. al. it is one thing to engage in political satire or make an artistic point, it is quite another to use someone's image in a way that is guaranteed to provoke, if not offend, for the purpose of selling your clothes, making a profit, and getting talked about. It's no different than Spencer and Heidi or the Kardashians and their stunts to shock and be talked about, except the only person they are pimping is themselves and THEY get the money. Here, leaders in two major conservative faiths, and the leaders of France, Germany, and.the United States are being used inappropriately so that Benneton can be more famous and get more money. Imagine if it was you, a family member, or your husband who was sudfenly ona Billboard kissing, say, Ann Coulter or John Boehner in someone else's advertisement...without your permission or payment. The fact that someone else thinks its funny or hot would be irrelevant. Its the fact that any true political, satirical, or artistic intent is second here to the commercial and bizz/fame-craving intent that bugs me.

    And anyone who thinks the Catholic Church is why this got pulled is probably buying into PR. The Church objects to these kinds of things all the time and even threatens a bit, as any public figures do, but the real threat is from Islamic extremists who will KILL or call for the killing of those who disrespect their faith who would be motivation for pulling such an ad. In Italy, the Pope and Church is satirized fairly regularly, but it plays a lot better to pull the ad over objections from/respect for the Church than to appear to be giving into Muslim terror.

    Posted by: LuckyLinden | Nov 17, 2011 10:14:15 AM

  15. Benetton actually has a historical and legal right to use the images of public figures in an editorial matter. They are taking images of both sides of conflicting sides and uniting them under the tag "UNHATE". Religious figures aren't exempt from that. The US supreme court said much the same thing in the Hustler/Jerry Falwell case.

    Personally, I think this is just another example of the largest victimizer in human history trying to play the victim. I don't care who the pope (lower case p intentional) or the other "princes of the church" think they are, they have no more special rights than anyone else.

    Posted by: Photoman | Nov 17, 2011 10:17:39 AM

  16. This kind of misplaced outrage creates the notorious Streisand effect of informing everyone who otherwise didn't know of the bad PR about you. Good move!

    Posted by: anon | Nov 17, 2011 10:20:31 AM

  17. Sue?
    It's called freedom of speech, christers. Suck it up.
    I just added Benetton to my preferred merchant list.

    Posted by: enough already | Nov 17, 2011 10:24:23 AM

  18. The Church always fights the wrong battles. Such a shame.

    Posted by: Pete | Nov 17, 2011 10:29:10 AM

  19. there holy fairytale book has the apostles greeting each other with holy kisses/ kiss of peace quite often while also stating men and women should not sit together in gatherings of believers

    Posted by: say what | Nov 17, 2011 10:34:31 AM

  20. Boy the Vatican was quick to react to this. Pity it has taken them decades to respond to their priests raping children.

    Posted by: Angus | Nov 17, 2011 10:35:38 AM

  21. In the end, didn't Benneton get the publicity they were looking for? Looks like their ad campaign was a success.

    Posted by: Jack M | Nov 17, 2011 10:38:33 AM

  22. Cute couple. Not. I can't wait for all the Muslims to get their burqas in an uproar.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Nov 17, 2011 10:47:16 AM

  23. jamal49

    well it depends on if he is a sunni or shia Iman

    Anyone know?

    Sunni Imans are of little importanct while Shia Imans are on the level of catholic pishops and popes

    Sunnis outnumber shias so if a shia iman the muslim world will most likely say so what since Sunni and Shias hate each other anyway like protestants and catholics hate each other

    Posted by: say what | Nov 17, 2011 10:50:16 AM

  24. It seems to me that it's the IMAM who has grounds to sue for defamation of character. To suggest that he doesn't have better taste in men is just CRIMINAL!

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Nov 17, 2011 10:50:54 AM

  25. This campaign is a hug MISS.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Nov 17, 2011 10:55:50 AM

  26. 1 2 »

Post a comment


« «Dylan McDermott Doesn't Do Gay Sex, Won't Mind if You Hit on Him« «