Obama and Chávez kiss in Benetton ad

Benetton is launching its first major global brand campaign in a decade with advertisements showing political and religious leaders from different divides kissing.

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An image of US President Barack Obama and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez embracing is one of several pairings the fashion brand will use in its UNHATE activity, which aims to demonstrate that “hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world”.

The campaign, which the company claims is “constructive provocation”, comes more than twenty years after its “United Colours…” activity caused controversy by depicting images that played on race, gender and religious stereotypes.

United Colors of Benetton was a leading European fashion brand in the 1980s but has since lost its position to brands such as Zara, Topshop, Gap and H&M.

Others seen “reconciling” their differences in the UNHATE campaign include Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyah, while Pope Benedict XVI is seen demonstrating the “most universal symbol of love” with Muslim leader Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb.

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