Fashion brand United Colors of Benetton is coming under fire for their latest ad campaign – which features real images of African migrants rescued at sea and then turned away from the ports of Italy.
The global, Italy-based brand posted two images — one of women carrying babies being met by a Red Cross worker and the other showing a group of male migrants in life jackets being aided by volunteers.
Both photos were snapped this month, the first by Italian news organization ANSA and the other by Franco-Germany organization SOS Méditerranée, which helps migrants from Africa trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
SOS Méditerranée lashed out at Benetton for posting the images with their green logo tacked on the bottom-right corner.
The “dignity of survivors must be respected at all times,” they tweeted on Tuesday. “The human tragedy at stake in the Mediterranean must never be used for any commercial purposes.”
“SOS Méditerranée does not give its consent for any commercial use of its pictures,” they added.
Benetton seemed to have deleted the image of the male migrants by Wednesday but not the one of the women taken by ANSA.
A ship operated by SOS Méditerranée, the Aquarius, rescued 630 migrants in the Mediterranean last week, but Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the Italian right-wing League party, refused to allow it to dock on June 9.
In total, 31 different nationalities were represented on the ship, with the largest number of people coming the Sudan, Algeria, Eritrea and Nigeria.
The Aquarius was also turned away by Malta but was finally allowed to dock in the Spanish port of Valencia on Sunday.
The campaign was designed by Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, whose work for Benetton has hit a nerve before.
In 1991, he offended the Roman Catholic Church by using a picture of a nun and priest kissing. The following year, he was criticized about a photo of an AIDS victim and a gay activist in a hospital bed.
He lost his position at the brand in 2000 over a campaign called “We, On Death Row,” which used photographs of prisoners sentenced to death in the US, but was rehired in February of this year.
Benetton did not immediately return a request for comment.
With Post wires