When we reported about Benetton‘s controversial Unhate campaign, we noted it was strange that we couldn’t find the ad featuring Pope Benedict kissing Imam Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb on the company’s website. It turns out there was reason: Benetton pulled the ad after the Vatican freaked out.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi issued the following statement about the Photoshopped image:
“This shows a grave lack of respect for the Pope, an offense to the feelings of believers, a clear demonstration of how publicity can violate the basic rules of respect for people.”
He also threatened legal action over the photo which appeared on a banner over the Renaissance Bridge near the Vatican. For context, el-Tayeb is the Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar Mosque, which recently stopped interfaith talks with the Vatican after the Pope called for protections for Egyptian Christians.
Soon after the Vatican issued its statement, the Italian company took down the banner and announced it would withdraw the image from the campaign. Do you think Benetton should have held its ground, or is it good they honored the Vatican’s wishes?