The White House isn’t feeling very kissy toward Benetton, after the publicity-loving clothing company photo-shopped President Obama into an ad smooching Chinese leader Hu Jintao and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

“The White House has a long-standing policy disapproving of the use of the president’s name and likeness for commercial purposes,” deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement.

The ads feature manipulated images of Obama kissing Chavez and Hu — and throws in pictures of Pope Benedict XVI canoodling with a top Egyptian imam — the point being international solidarity and love, as befits the brands “United Colors” campaign.

The Vatican has threatened to sue, and Benetton quickly yanked the ad, which has already generated lots of buzz and millions in free advertising (like this post, for instance).

Another poster, unveiled Wednesday, showed French President Nicolas Sarkozy getting friendly with Germany’s Angela Merkel, which has actually happened, albeit less amorously.

Continue reading on www.politico.com

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