The White House Slams Benetton Ads Featuring President Kissing World Leaders

Do you think the company took it too far with these digitally altered images?

Posted: 11/21/2011 04:10 PM EST
Barack Obama

The United Colors of Benetton is known for running controversial images in their clothing ads, and they’ve ruffled feathers once again with a new “Unhate” campaign that includes images of President Obama locking lips with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The White House has objected the President’s inclusion in the digitally altered pictures. Spokesman Eric Schultz told the Associated Press, "The White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president's name and likeness for commercial purposes." The campaign has also generated protest from the Vatican over another image featuring Pope Benedict XVI kissing Egypt's Ahmed el-Tayyeb, a leading imam. 

Alessandro Benetton, the company’s deputy chief, has said the ads were created to “combat the culture of hatred that exists in the world today.” “We are giving widespread visibility to an ideal notion of tolerance and to reflect on how hatred arises particularly from fear of ‘the other’ and of what is unfamiliar. Our goal is to inspire closeness between people's faiths, cultures and the peaceful understanding of each other’s notions.”

What’s your take on the shock-value ads? We want to hear from you. Sound off!

(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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