Society is surrounded by images. Each day we are bombarded with controversial, persuasive and opinionated photos that allegedly influence our lifestyle. These signs and symbols create emotions, connections and triggers that affect our attitude towards events. Marketers continually incorporate media platforms to compete in this competitive marketplace, creating advertisements that are designed to leave an imprint within your mind. But what happens when the imprint left is offensive?
Antonio Federici is a long standing gelato company located in the Italian Riviera. The company offers gelato made with the finest ingredients, and uses a variety of medium’s in promoting to their customers. However, in 2010 they ran a series of controversial, religious advertisements that had several sexual connotations, including two priests preparing to kiss, highlighted in the image above. These images caused outrage amongst the Roman, catholic society and were requested to be band. The company stated it “implied forbidden Italian temptations” and that “only a tiny proportion of those who have seen the ads have made complaints. They seem to be upholding the views of a bigoted minority over the majority.”
Although the company was unethical in their marketing ploy they were acknowledging the elephant in the room through visual qualities. Homosexuality is a topic that still struggles to be accepted within society and can often make people feel uncomfortable, pairing it with religious regalia aids to this uncertainty. Antonio Federici clearly wanted to shock viewers, but the image does state an underlying fact within our society, fear. Images that go beyond the boundaries do so deliberately as they want the audience to recognize and hopefully overcome their prejudice. Controversial advertising isn’t so much about causing offence intentionally but gaining reaction, whether it’s positive or negative, it is going to remain in your thoughts and conscience. In the end there is at least one person who views an advertisement adversely, we cannot please everyone but we can draw a line with semiotic imagery, and this is where Antonio Federici failed to do so.