Benetton, the Italian fashion company, has launched a campaign focused on prayer, featured prominently in two-page print advertisement showing a Tibetan monk and a Chinese soldier at prayer for the victims of the May earthquake in China’s Sichuan province. Emblazoned across the top of the ad is the word “VICTIMS” in large black letters swathed in grey blotches suggesting smoke or dust.
The ad, published in leading Italian newspapers and the French paper Le Monde, was timed to coincide with the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Benetton said. The magazine ad reads: “Benetton Asia Pacific supports the Red Cross in its aid for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake,” and notes that T-shirts of the image are on sale at Benetton stores.
The Prayers campaign is picked up in the August issue of Colors Magazine. Colors 74 attempts to make a small contribution to dialogue and engagement between Tibetan and Chinese people. The magazine this time round is a colleciton of prayers inspired by the design and meaning of traditional Tibetan flags. The editorial team collected thirty photographs of the Sichuan earthquake and met thirty Tibetan monks around the world. Each monk composed a prayer inspired by one of these photos. Zhong Acheng and Yu Hua, Chinese writers, discuss Chinese reactions and social transformations following the earthquake.
A Benetton spokeswoman said: “We absolutely don’t wish to take sides for China or Tibet. It’s a universal message of peace, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence between people, which does not favour one or the other. We tried to allow a free interpretation of this image, a message of peace in the tradition of all the advertising campaigns of the Benetton house. We deliberately chose to launch this campaign on the opening day of the Olympics, to celebrate these Games”.