These images and more are all part of an advertising campaign launched late last year by clothing brand Benetton, who in an attempt to not only set off sales but also cause a buzz on the street, they have released six highly controversial images of world leaders engaging in some very close diplomatic dialogue.

The UNHATE campaign is the first initiative from a new Benetton foundation of the same name, launched by Alessandro Benetton, executive deputy chairman of the Benetton Group.

According to Benetton “These are symbolic images of reconciliation – with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation – to stimulate reflection on how politics, faith and ideas, even when they are divergent and mutually opposed, must still lead to dialogue and mediation.

“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.”

Benetton said that the ads were inspired by a famous embrace between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker caught on camera in 1979.

Benetton wants the world to UNHATE
US President Barack Obama and China’s supreme leader Hu Jintao

Benetton wants the world to UNHATE
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Benetton wants the world to UNHATE
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Benetton wants the world to UNHATE
North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak

Benetton wants the world to UNHATE
US President Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela

Benetton wants the world to UNHATE
The Pope and Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo

Though Benetton is not one to shy away from controversy in their advertisement campaigns it seems there were some serious apologises that had to be made after this campaign hit. Turns out the Catholic Church reacted angrily to the campaign, calling it unacceptable. Needless to say Benetton withdrew any posters featuring the Pope.

Source: Creative Review Blog