No papal kisses: Benetton relaunches brand ditching shock factor and taking nostalgic lookback

TREVISO, Italy – Benetton, the Italian maker of colorful knitwear, is relaunching its brand with a gentler ad campaign that ditches shock factor images such as the pope kissing an imam, which once angered the Vatican.

John Mollanger, Benetton’s new head of product and marketing, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the brand is integrating its mission to sell clothes and its advertising campaign “for the first time maybe” to make its message to customers more consistent.

“If the communication experience is schizophrenic,” Mollanger said, “it’s not necessarily good news.”

The collection now in selected stores features knits inspired by Benetton’s first five decades, accompanied by an ad campaign featuring women who have overcome personal hurdles.