The Italian fashion firm Benetton launched its shock advertisement campaign on Monday in Tel Aviv showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas kissing on the mouth.
Owner of Benetton in Israel, Eran Weisner, said the advertisement hanging on a major highway in Israel's business capital is part of the firm's latest shock campaign, in which a number of world leaders are seen kissing each other on the mouth in photo montages.
"I hope nobody will take with such seriousness; we've decided to divide Jerusalem into four, not the campaign which spark a campaign, which can engender political responses . The idea is not to hate it's like to love. Can you hate somebody that you love? It's wonderful," said Weisner at a construction site in Rishon Letzion where Benetton's second store was scheduled to open its doors in the coming weeks.
Three large banners with the image of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders were hung along Israel's main Ayalon freeway. U.S. President Barack Obama is shown kissing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in one. Other photo montages in the same campaign, in which Benetton says it supports the Unhate Foundation, show other world leaders kissing each other on the mouth.
In Tel Aviv residents expressed mixed feelings with pleasure toward the 'Unhate' ad. "Well any campaign of love is good campaign I think a bit of controversies. Always good as well and it's a straight line from the eighties so I think it's very Benetton I like it," Customer Danny told Reuters Television.
Vadim; customer at Tel Aviv's Benetton reacted with amusement toward the campaign. "An excellent campaign with a lot of love in the world. Two leaders who are politically estranged and in terms of the two peoples they are kissing. In my opinion it is wonderful an excellent campaign and it's great to see such thing that there is not only hatred in the world," he added.
Last week, Benetton withdrew an advertisement showing Pope Benedict kissing an imam on the mouth after the Vatican said it would take legal action to stop the distribution of the photo montage. The Italian clothing company has run controversial advertising campaigns in the past, including one that showed grieving parents at the bedside of a man dying of AIDS.