Obama kissing Hugo Chávez?

United Colours of Benetton have released a campaign that could quite possibly be their most controversial yet! In support of the Unhate Foundation, Benetton have created images of some pretty prominent world leaders in, let’s say, “intimate situations”. In this campaign you will see love blossom between Barack Obama and Chinese leader Hu Jintao as well as Hugo Chavez, Pope Benedict XVI and Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo (the most important and moderate centre for Sunni Islamic studies in the world); the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the press release Benetton stated, ” These are symbolic images of reconciliation – with a touch of ironic hope and constructiveprovocation – to stimulate reflection on how politics, faith and ideas,even when they are divergent and mutually opposed, must still lead to dialogue and mediation.”

“While global love is still a utopia, albeit a worthy one, the invitation ‘not to hate’, to combat the ‘culture of hatred’, is an ambitious but realistic objective,” explained Alessandro Benetton. “At this moment in history, so full of major upheavals and equally large hopes, we have decided, through this campaign, to give widespread visibility to an ideal notion of tolerance and invite the citizens of every country to reflect on how hatred arises particularly from fear of ‘the other’ and of what is unfamiliar to us. Ours is a universal campaign, using instruments such as the internet, the world of social media, and artistic imagination, and it is unique, in that it calls the citizens of the world to action. At the same time, it fits perfectly with the values and history of Benetton, which chooses social issues and actively promotes humanitarian causes that could not otherwise have been communicated on a global scale, and in doing so has given a sense and a value to its brand, building a lasting dialogue with the people of the world.”

There you have it, folks. Now we’re waiting to see the reaction from the political and religious figures involved. While this is a campaign that is willing to take risks to make a point, we do hope that it doesn’t backfire and create more animosity among world leaders.

UPDATE: 15:50 17/11/2011
The Vatican has spoken:
“This shows a grave lack of respect for the Pope, an offence to the feelings of believers, a clear demonstration of how publicity can violate the basic rules of respect for people.”
Apparently they are also seeking legal advice to take action…I’m sure they’ll be more updates to come! Camp Obama… have you anything to say?


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