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Benetton pulls ad featuring doctored photo of pope kissing imam
A Benetton ad in Paris featuring a doctored photo of the pope kissing a prominent imam.
November 16th, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Benetton pulls ad featuring doctored photo of pope kissing imam

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - United Colors of Benetton announced Wednesday it is pulling an ad featuring a doctored picture of the pope kissing a male Muslim cleric on the same day the ad was unveiled in response to criticism.

The ad featured a fake picture of Pope Benedict XVI kissing Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, a prominent Muslim house of worship in Cairo, Egypt.

"We reiterate that the meaning of this campaign is exclusively to combat the culture of hatred in all its forms," Benetton said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are therefore sorry that the use of the image of the pope and the imam has so offended the sentiments of the faithful,” the statement by the fashion apparel company continued. “In corroboration of our intentions, we have decided, with immediate effect, to withdraw this image from every publication."

The ad was part of a campaign United Colors of Benetton unveiled Wednesday that features doctored photos of world leaders kissing each other and that aims to combat what the Italian-based company called a “culture of hatred.”

The series features fake photos of U.S. President Barack Obama kissing Chinese leader Hu Jintao and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kissing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, among other pairings.

The ads are appearing in print and online media around the world.

“The central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, between world political and religious leaders,” Benetton said in a Wednesday press release.

“These are symbolic images of reconciliation - with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation - to stimulate reflection on how politics, faith and ideas, even when they are divergent and mutually opposed, must still lead to dialogue and mediation.”

Benetton says the ad campaign accompanies the creation of a new organization called the UNHATE foundation.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Islam

soundoff (1,035 Responses)
  1. no religion

    I love the ad....I kn ew so many people would be offended, first because it is a kiss between 2 men...and 2nd because it is the pope is a joke , the church is the biggest propaganda machine in the world and everyone who follows it are a bunch of ignorant sheep, get a life have your own thoughts about what is right for you.....they send their pedophile priests to other parishes to hide their own abusers...disgusting...they should all be in jail...they only care about protecting the church not the millions of victims!! there has been more killings in the history of the world based on religion, it is a book people...written by people and you follow it like it the WORD... no one knows how we got here, why were here or what happens when we leave here....stop the fear and live life without the crutch of the hateful bully church.....

    November 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Thank you. And it is funny as hell.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  2. Devin

    Of all the ways...OF ALL THE WAYS to get your point across....this is what you come up with? Congrats on failing.

    November 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Why? It got everyone's attention, and you know who put up the ad, and people are talking about it, giving it more attention. It did it's job.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      It is a great success. Kudos!

      November 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  3. Jeebers

    What is the pope like Mohammed? We can't make fun of him either or post pictures!

    November 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  4. drenk

    the pope would NEVER kiss anyone passed puberty everyone knows that

    November 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  5. pfunk

    i am soo glad that they get none, nada, zip of my moolah, bread, dough.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  6. CTC Philippines

    The message is simple, boycott United Colors of Benetton (PERIOD) !

    November 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      No! Their panties are pretty.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  7. Andrew

    Ok, I haven't even heard about Benetton for at least 15 years. I guess their new ad campaign is working. It's getting people talking about Benetton again. Any publicity is good publicity.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Dam straight. (see what I did there, straight...I crack myself up)

      November 16, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Damn straight. (see what I did there, straight...I crack myself up)

      November 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      YEAH. YOU POSTED THE SAME STUPID COMMENT TWICE.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  8. THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

    I SEE WHAT THE GUY IS TRYING TO DO WITH THE AD, BUT ALL IT'S GOING TO DO IS ANGER A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN BE ANGRY AT USELESS CRAP.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      CAPS LOCK IS GARBAGE

      November 16, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      CRY ABOUT IT SOME MORE. MAYBE SOMEONE WILL SOOTH YOUR PAIN.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      OK, CAPS LOCK is gargage.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Still in tears. People who post in all CAPS are impossible to take seriously. Dork dork dork.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      THAT'S THE BEST YOU CAN COME UP WITH? WHAT'S COMING NEXT? A HURTFUL "MY DAD CAN BEAT UP YOUR DAD" COMMENT? YOUR ASTONISHING, RAZOR SHARP WIT RIVALS THE SHOCK AND AWE OF A PACK OF RABID LOS ANGELES COPS ARMED WITH TASERS. IT'S COMPELLING.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      CAPS person, my Dad is fat and I am old. You are a dipshi t. I cannot control this nor change it. Carry on with your silly Caps Lock posts. My point is only this, you are a dork.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      ARE YOU JESSICA SIMPSON? YOU'RE EITHER HER OR A VERY CLOSE BLOOD RELATIVE. I'M BASING THIS ON HOW BRIGHT YOU ARE.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Passive Aggressive

      Bible Garbage Person. If you don't know how to turn off the Caps Lock, that does not speak well of your intelligence.

      November 17, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • ARCEON

      Hey, Sticky and GARBAGE! Why don't you just KISS and MAKE UP?

      November 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  9. Daddy2010

    "We reiterate that the meaning of this campaign is exclusively to combat the culture of hatred in all its forms," And we do this by creating a hateful ad.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      It is a beautiful, loving ad.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Ralph

      So, Daddy2010...How do you show love? With hitting and yelling?

      November 16, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  10. Ecko

    Done on purpose to generate controversy..... A cheap and pitiful way of attracting attention to your brand.... Shame on you Benetton .... Shame on you

    November 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Bless you for humilating those two creeps.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  11. WomenOnGuard

    If this is the way Benetton wants to make more sales, they are doing it in the wrong way. VERY DISTASTEFU­L. Shocking advertisin­g doesn't automatica­lly mean positive marketing outcome. This must be their desperate attempt to get more sales.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Who cares about that? I don't buy anything, I am a dude. It is hysterical.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  12. herbert juarez

    I am so aroused by that poster! Keep 'em coming, um, so to speak.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  13. Andrew

    I guess it would be ok to advertise if that Catholic was f*****g a little boy...

    November 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  14. Maria

    This clothing company has the most unreal ads ,I remember one, where a father is around his dying son who is dying of AIDS ,it looks awful and sad! what this picture od a son dying of AIDS had to do with clothes? it is outrageous.I think Benetton is going too far this time ,who dare and goes beyond the limits ,they want to create controversy well I don't think we the consumers buy the products because someone is kissing someone or because to show a handbang the model has to be naked .....

    November 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      AIDS MAKES YOU SKINNY, WHICH IS FASHIONABLE.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      CAPS LOCK makes you fat which is not fashionable.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      CRYING ABOUT SOMEONE USING THE CAPS LOCK DAY AFTER DAY JUST MAKES YOU A PANSY.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Using CAPS LOCK everyday makes you a juvinile nuiscence.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      USING CAPS LOCK EVERY DAY HELPS ME SPELL THINGS LIKE JUVENILE NUISANCE PROPERLY.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  15. pajocoaz

    ah oh!

    November 16, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  16. Abolish All Religion

    The most disgusting, vile, abhorrent acts are committed by religion, in the name of religion and by the religious zealots.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Ishan

      So, this Benetton advertisement is a solution for it? be grown up...

      November 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Solution, no of course not stupid. Hilarious? Yes.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  17. jon

    hey benetton...be better fasten your buttons...surely, you get the attention of the imam's followers...

    November 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  18. Chuey Esquela

    When is somebody gonna just tell Benetton to get a new ad agency. One that is professional and creative.

    November 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      You are very naive.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  19. mud

    Thats a great way to start a war!!!!

    November 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Sticky Socks

      Just leave me out of it. I don't care who kisses who.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  20. united colors for the apes

    Richard Dawkins making out with Sam Harris

    Hot!hot!HOT!

    November 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Sizzle

      Please no, that would upset the gorillas and chimps

      November 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      But Richard Dawkins is married to the second Romana. I doubt he's much interested in Sam Harris.

      November 17, 2011 at 11:20 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.