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The Pope, Obama, Sarkozy, & Others are Unwilling Stars of a New Benetton Campaign

The United Colors of Benetton is known for its characteristic and often controversial ad campaigns, but its latest series of ads casts some rather unlikely stars. The fashion company's new Unhate campaign pairs world leaders from opposite sides of the political spectrum locking lips, with a little help from Photoshop: overacheiving Barack Obama makes out with both Hugu Chavez from Venezuela and China's Hu Jintao, Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu kisses Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas, new French dad Nicolas Sarkozy canoodles with Germany's Angela Merkel, and so on. Edgy.

Obama Benetton

But the most controversial images stars religious leaders Pope Benedict and Imam Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb getting to know each other, in the biblical sense.

Obviously, the Vatican is less than thrilled and considering legal action against Benetton. Father Frederico Lombardi, spokesman for the Vatican Church, released the following statement:

"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."

Sounds like the fashion ads have people pretty worked up! May I recommend some retail therapy?

[via Styleite]