World Leaders Kissing Each Other
A new campaign from Benetton recalls the brand’s controversial heyday. A series of posters features world leaders with lips locked to launch the UNHATE project. Benetton, says the accompanying press material, is inviting “the leaders and citizens of the world to combat the ‘culture of hatred'”. The UNHATE campaign is the first initiative from a new Benetton foundation of the same name, launched by Alessandro Benetton, executive deputy chairman of the Benetton Group.
A series of posters, created by Benetton’s ‘research communication centre’ Fabrica in cooperation with 72andSunny, features political and spiritual leaders kissing (shown above, The Pope and Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo. Below, US President Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela)
According to Benetton “These are symbolic images of reconciliation – with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation – to stimulate reflection on how politics, faith and ideas, even when they are divergent and mutually opposed, must still lead to dialogue and mediation.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy
North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
Update: Following pressure from the Vatican, Benetton has reportedly withdrawn the poster featuring the Pope kissing Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi has been quoted in various sources criticising the company for exploiting the Pope’s image.