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Italy Refuses to Censor Benetton Ads

MILAN -- Calls for censorship of a controversial Benetton ad depicting the phrase "HIV Positive" stamped on body parts have been rebuffed by Italy's Antitrust Commission, according to a statement from the apparel company.<BR><BR>At the same time, the...

MILAN — Calls for censorship of a controversial Benetton ad depicting the phrase “HIV Positive” stamped on body parts have been rebuffed by Italy’s Antitrust Commission, according to a statement from the apparel company.

At the same time, the commission ruled that Benetton could not repeat an ad from 1992 that showed a dying AIDS activist because it might upset children.

In both cases, the commission’s decisions might be moot. The campaign featuring the “HIV Positive” ad ended last September.

The commission, which has oversight authority over the advertising sector, ruled against Federconsumatori, an Italian consumer organization that asked for a ban on the Benetton campaign. The organization requested the ban on the grounds that its approach was contrary to fair trading principles and constituted unfair competition, a Benetton spokeswoman explained.

The campaign, which ran in magazines and on billboards last fall, consisted of three images of three different parts of the human body with the phrase “HIV Positive” stamped on the skin.

In a second decision, the commission ruled that Benetton’s 1992 ad picturing dying AIDS activist David Kirby with his family cannot be reused by Benetton in Italy because its content could be disturbing to children and adolescents.

“How they arrived at this decision, given that most children have access to images that are far more disconcerting on evening television, isn’t really clear,” the Benetton spokeswoman said.