A new Benetton ad featuring President Barack Obama, the Pope and other world leaders kissing has been taking over Twitter feeds, blogs and other social networks.
Titled Unhate, the Benetton ad is part of the Italian clothing company's UNHATE Foundation.
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 . . . our campaign promotes a shift in the balance: don't hate, Unhate, Benetton's new ad says on its Web site.
Launched on Wednesday, the campaign consists of a short film, an Unhate List and a Kiss Wall, a space for the public to upload photos of themselves unhating things.
As with Benetton's previous ad campaigns, the Photoshopped kissing images are receiving mixed reviews. Already, the Vatican has spoken out on the ad campaign, which features one photo of Pope Benedict XVI kissing Ahmed el Tayyeb of Egypt.
This is a grave lack of respect for the pope, an offence against the sentiments of the faithful and a clear example of how advertising can violate elementary rules of respect for people in order to attract attention through provocation, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
On Wednesday, to mark the start of the new ad campaign, Benetton unleashed giant posters of the kissing ads in Milan, Paris, Tel Aviv and New York. A banner of the Pope kissing ad has since been removed from a bridge near the Vatican, according to Reuters.
Benetton's Unhate Web site has also pulled the kissing image of the Pope from its series, which includes French president Nicolas Sarkozy smooching Germany's Angela Merkel and leaders of both Koreas caught in a fictional moment of embrace.
Obama makes a double appearance in the Benetton ad campaign, kissing Hu Jintao of China in one and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela in another.
Naturally, Twitter has been bursting at the seams with responses to the new ad, along with the hashtags #kissing, #unhate and #benetton.
Benetton RULES, FREEDOM OF SPEECH! Not about the image but about the impact, great jobs, and yes I will start buying shirts again (-: wrote one user on Twitter.
Public diplomacy in the private sector: #Unhate campaign by Benetton, wrote another.
Benetton, which was founded in 1965, has been one of the most daring and controversial brands in the world, at least, when it comes to its ad campaigns.
Previous ads have included a deathbed scene of activist David Kirby dying from AIDS, a newborn baby with umbilical cord attached, a priest and nun caught in a romantic moment and a bloody t-shirt with bullet holes.
Scroll down to view photos from Benetton's kissing Unhate ad campaign.
What do you think of Benetton's latest kissing Unhate campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.