Italian clothing firm United Colors of Benetton has drawn flak for its latest advertisement campaign featuring pictures of migrants rescued from the Mediterranean Sea.
The Franco-German charity that carried out the rescue, SOS Mediterranee, lashed out at Benetton for exploiting a “human tragedy.”
“SOS Mediterranee fully dissociates itself from this campaign which displays a picture taken while our teams were rescuing people in distress at sea on June 9,” it said on Twitter Tuesday.
The “dignity of survivors must be respected at all times,” said SOS Mediterannee. “The human tragedy at stake in the Mediterranean must never be used for any commercial purposes.”
The NGO added that it does not give its consent for any commercial use of its pictures and condemned the photographer’s “personal initiative” to provide the picture.
Benetton published two publicity photographs on its Twitter account featuring migrants, one credited to SOS Mediterannee and another to the Italian news agency ANSA. Both the pictures displayed the company’s name at the bottom.
Reacting to Benetton’s campaign, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted: “Am I the only one to find this loathsome?”
Salvini, the head of Italy’s ruling far-right League party, had denied permission to SOS Mediterranee’s ship carrying the rescued migrants to dock at Italy’s ports
Aquarius — the ship which rescued more than 600 migrants — was eventually permitted to dock at Valencia in Spain last week.
Benetton has been criticized in the past for its controversial ad campaigns, including those featuring an AIDS patient, a black woman breastfeeding a white child and former Pope Benedict kissing a senior Egyptian imam.