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Benetton Returns to Its Controversial Roots for New Ad Campaign

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25 years ago, the then-edgy United Colors of Benetton multiracial ad campaign catapulted the brand into the big time. Now, seeing sales slump and other similar chains like H&M and Topshop dominate, Benetton is returning to its best asset--controversy. Today, Benetton revealed their new "Unhate" campaign.

"It means not hating," the company's founder, Alessandro Benetton, said for those of you who didn't have dictionaries handy. The ads include images of President Barack Obama kissing controversial political figures, such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and China's Hu Jintao. Benetton referenced some of the globe's biggest stories and trends, adding, "In a moment of darkness, with the financial crisis, what's going on in North African countries, in Athens, this is an attitude we can all embrace that can have positive energy."

The ad campaign is the media component of a campaign to relaunch and reinvigorate the Benetton brand. The next step is revamping the product by returning to the bold colors and knits that were a staple in the 1980s and '90s. They're also remodeling many of the store's locations to give them a more modern feel. And as for the Unhate campaign? It will be joined by Benetton's new Unhate Foundation, which will "further the cause." Of kissing, or of branding?
· Benetton Reveals 'Unhate' to Regain Consumers' Love [WSJ]
· Are You the Next Benetton Model? [Racked]