Benetton has pulled a controversial ad that shows Pope Benedict XVI kissing Muslim leader Mohammed Ahmed Al Tayeb, the grand sheikh of the Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, on the lips. The ad was launched on Wednesday but lasted less than 24 hours before the Vatican stepped in to protest.
The ad is part of a new series under the Unhate Foundation banner, which sees Benetton pair various unlikely kissers. Ads featuring various political leaders kissing one another – including one showing Barack Obama kissing Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez – have been unveiled around the world.
Benetton has a history of controversial advertising, but the latest campaign might be the first time the Vatican has become involved. The digitally-altered images also include one of Germany’s Angela Merkel kissing former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.