Italian fashion house United Colours of Benetton has launched a shock and awe advertising campaign called Unhate to boost its lagging brand recognition. Not a huge deal, just a bunch of unauthorized doctored photos of world leaders kissing each other on the lips. Obama smooching Hugo Chávez, for example.
In another photo he kisses Hu Jintao. Last year, the White House called foul when Weatherproof featured their jacket-clad Commander in Chief without permission in one of the company's New York billboards. But I'm sure they'll be fine with this.
Another photo shows presidents Kim Jong-Il and Lee Myung-bak kissing. In Benetton's world, the fact that they preside over one of the most contentious borders on the planet just adds to their latent steaming affection for one other.
Here's the mission statement for the Unhate campaign from the Benetton website:
Object: the aim of contrasting the culture of hatred and promoting closeness between peoples, faiths, cultures, and the peaceful understanding of each other's motivations... The central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, between world political and religious leaders
Someone over there must have picked up on our Merkozy story, too, as France and Germany's leading man and lady lock lips in another Unhate photograph. Also of note is the Prime Minister of Israel rounding first base with the President of the Palestinian Authority.
Will it sell more scarfs and clutches? Maybe. But it most definitely will incite a response from the catholic church whose pope is shown cozying up to the mustache of the sheikh of the al-Alzhar mosque.
(Update: prediction confirmed. But we've still got the Pope photo below... for now.)
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