This advert is one of many from United Colours of Beneton’s unHate campaign, showing doctored photos with the aim being to combat the culture of hatred. It shows Pope Benedict XVI (a Catholic) and imam Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb (a Muslim) sharing a kiss, which is a universally accepted symbol for love. The advert was pulled down hours after it was released following a lot of criticism from the public and the Vatican planned legal action against United Colours of Benetton, who later released a formal apology. On one hand, it can be said the ad is portraying two cultures that both condemn the gay lifestyle coming together (metaphor).
However, the whole message the ad is trying to convey is lost as by presenting “UNHATE” on the picture, it is promoting the idea that the Pope is against Islam or vice versa which is not the case. Adding weak arguments to a persuasive message as demonstrated here has been found to dilute the effect of the message. Friedrich, Fetherstonhaugh, Casey and Gallagher (1996) gave undergraduates strong and weak arguments in an essay supporting the institution of senior comprehensive exams in college. The students then completed a questionnaire and it was found that weak arguments diluted the impact of the message.
The ad aims to use social modelling by the two men to persuade the audience to adopt the message of the campaign especially by using well known, respected figures. However, showing the pope in a sexual manner is deemed as highly offensive to many as the pope is not supposed to have any sexual associations. This lack of respect demonstrated by not asking for permission from the two religious leaders before associating them with the campaign, can deem the whole unHate campaign as hypocritical.
The advert can be improved with the two men sharing a handshake instead as a message of unHate is shown by unity more so than an intimate kiss and people who like each other generally share a handshake, hug or smile.
Friedrich, J., Fetherstonhaugh, D., Casey, S., & Gallagher, D. (1996). Argument integration and attitude change: Suppression effects in the integration of one-sided arguments that vary in persuasiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 179-191.