NEW YORK — Benetton’s newest ad campaign hasn’t even broken, but already it’s causing controversy.
The new ads show a blood-stained uniform worn by Marinko Gagro, a 30-year-old soldier who died in battle last July in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The ad was rejected by the Los Angeles Times, but will break in the Washington Post Thursday and will run in The New Yorker and The New Republic on Monday.
Gagro’s bloody T-shirt and trousers, which he was wearing when he was killed, were photographed by Oliviero Toscani, Benetton’s creative director. It was shot against a white background with a message from Gagro’s father written in Serbo-Croatian.
According to Benetton spokesman Peter Fressola, Gojko Gagro, the father of the dead soldier, contacted the local Benetton representative in Bosnia and offered the uniform.
“It came in a box with a letter,” said Fressola. “The letter said, ‘Maybe you can use this to promote peace.”‘
The message in the ad reads, “I, Gojko Gagro, father of the deceased Marinko Gagro, born in 1963, at Blizanci in the province of Citluk, would like that my son’s name, and all that remains of him, be used in the name of peace and against war.”
Fressola said the Los Angeles Times didn’t feel the image was appropriate for Southern California considering what people have been through as a result of last month’s earthquake and how they are working to rebuild the city. Benetton was told that “showing a bloody uniform would not help promote positive feelings,” he said.
Laura Morgan, a spokeswoman for the L.A. Times, confirmed the newspaper had rejected the ad. “The content was violent, and we didn’t feel it was appropriate,” she said.