The Italian fashion brand Benetton really knows how to shock and leave us absolutely breathless. After their project called “Lana Sutra“, they’ve decided to step it up a notch further with a really controversial campaign that features the most influential people in the world: Barack Obama, Hu Jintao, Hugo Chávez, Pope and Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb.

This time there’s no hate and disagreement, just peace (and love supposedly) while global leaders are kissing each other. Barack Obama locks lips with China’s Hu Jintao and with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, but even more shocking is that Vatican’s Pope is kissing Islam’s leading figures Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb,  current Imam of al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt. Beginning with yesterday, huge images of this campaign were set in New York and Italy (near Vatican) with the title UNHATE.

But what does it all mean? Alessandro Benetton, deputy chairman of Benetton and son of the founder, says “It means not hating. In a moment of darkness, with the financial crisis, what’s going on in North African countries, in Athens, this is an attitude we can all embrace that can have positive energy. What does UNHATE mean? UN-hate. Stop hating, if you were hating. Unhate is a message that invites us to consider that hate and love are not as far away from each other as we think. Actually, the two opposing sentiments are often in a delicate and unstable balance. Our campaign promotes a shift in the balance: don’t hate, Unhate.”

This brand has always argued for unity, peace and toleration. This time is no different. I think there’s no better way for people to pay attention to all the problems in society than making it shocking. Mr. Benetton said that he was inspired by the famous kiss of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German communist leader Erich Honecker in 1979. Benetton agency Fabrica made these pictures without the leaders’ permission and they don’t expect them to complain because their message is human. Let’s hope that it will get the same kind of response from global leaders.

Check out more behind the scenes videos at Benetton’s official YouTube page.

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