Benetton Pulls Pope and Imam Make-Out Ad

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Remember those striking Benetton UNHATE Campaign images we posted yesterday, of (mostly male) world leaders kissing? You know, the ones we referred to as “potentially controversial”? Well, controversy has, indeed, ensued. The first ad to attract a backlash features Pope Benedict XVI making out with Ahmed el-Tayeb, an important Egyptian Sunni imam. As Britain’s Daily Mail reports, Benetton has pulled the image from its website — and removed it from a Vatican-adjacent billboard — in response to the Vatican’s charge that the ad “shows a serious lack of respect for the Pope.” The company has released a statement of apology: “We are sorry that the use of an image of the pontiff and the imam should have offended the sensibilities of the faithful in this way. We have decided with immediate effect to withdraw this image from every publication.” Of course, Benetton had to know that this particular ad would stir up drama, and the choice to place a billboard so close to the Vatican makes it pretty clear they were seeking a reaction from on high. Let us know in the comments whether you find the photo offensive.