The Vatican Did Not Like Benetton's Papal Makeout Ad

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Update 5:28 p.m.: The White House isn't a super fan of Obama's appearance in the ad campaign, either, Politico reports. "The White House has a long-standing policy disapproving of the use of the president's name and likeness for commercial purposes," deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement. That's a pretty mild criticism, so we're betting against Benetton taking down the ads on the White House's account. 

Clothing retailer Benetton has torn down a controversial ad from stores and billboards that featured a doctored photo of Pope Benedict XVI making out with Grand Imam Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy after the Vatican threatened to take legal action. We introduced you yesterday to clothing retailer Benetton's eye-widening ad campaign which features several doctored images of unlikely world leaders making out. But (unsurprisingly) , it seems the ad campaign went a little too far for the Catholics, according to a statement from the Vatican, reports Reuters:

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."

The statement doesn't clarify whether the Vatican will sue Benetton for damages. Benetton meanwhile removed the ad from its web site and public locations in Italy, and issued an apology:

We reiterate that the meaning of this campaign is exclusively to combat the culture of hatred in all its forms. We are therefore sorry that the use of the image of the pope and the imam has so offended the sentiments of the faithful. In corroboration of our intentions, we have decided, with immediate effect, to withdraw this image from every publication.

The "Unhate" ad campaign, which also featured, for instance, a crazy-real looking image of Barack Obama locking lips with China's Hu Jintao, was nominally designed to promote positive energy during a time of world crisis, but also presumably to promote Benetton's brand -- though there is a curious lack of, you know, Bennenton clothes in any of the photos.  Nevertheless, while the Vatican's legal action might help them get awkward images of the pope out of everyone's eyesight (but forever stuck in their mind), it'll also probably serve to give Benetton the press attention it was clearly seeking with such a controversial, on-the-news campaign. So, then, everybody wins, we guess? 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.