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Monday, March 04, 2024

Most people would never expect political opposites President Barack Obama and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez to have a genuinely amicable conversation with each other, much less be photographed in a public lip-lock.

That's the premise behind the UNHATE campaign, which on Wednesday released five digitally manipulated images of rival world leaders kissing, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The images are part of a new ad campaign by clothing company United Colors of Benetton called the "UNHATE Foundation," which aims to "contribute to the creation of a new culture of tolerance," according to the company's website.

The campaign uses viewers' surprise at the controversial images to draw attention to its message.

Both the Vatican and the White House have issued statements criticizing the campaign's use of the pope's and Obama's image, respectively.

Nutrition junior Faith Cayobit, 20, first saw the images on Facebook.

"My initial reaction was shock, followed by confusion and bewilderment," she said.

As of press time, the website had been shared on Facebook more than 13,000 times.

One of the website's interactive elements is a "Kiss Wall," a page where users upload pictures of themselves in profile "kissing" the air and are randomly spliced together with other users. The effect is a mosaic of random people - and the occasional raccoon or panda - kissing.

Digital arts and sciences sophomore Jordan Fine, 19, said he thought the campaign might satisfy people who like the clothing line and also agree with the message.

"When it comes down to it, every human falls in love with something," he said. "It can be someone of the opposite sex, same sex or no sex at all. I guess the campaign is just trying to give people a more open mind."

However, Fine doesn't think he'll participate in the campaign.

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"I'd rather look up pictures of pugs with my free time," he said.

Cayobit would rather show support in a different way.

"I would probably rather show support by buying products whose profit went to the foundation or by donating to the cause itself," she said.

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