Benetton is going for shock value in its latest ad push, which shows major world leaders, including Barack Obama, Hu Jintao and Benjamin Netanyahu, kissing. And not just any old peck. It’s a full head-tilted, eyes-closed sort of deep smooching. Agency is the Italian Fabrica, in partnership with MDC Partners’ 72andSunny.

What is more, the outdoor prints:

venez usa.preview

north south korea.preview

palestine israel.preview

vatican al azhar.preview

germany_france.preview

china usa.preview

The campaign also leans heavily on social media, including a website that Benetton is calling a “Kiss Wall” where consumers can upload pictures of themselves kissing. It has also created a short film about spreading love, or as Benetton calls it “unhate.” All of the work was created by Benetton’s internal agency, Fabrica, which is based in Treviso, Italy, in partnership with MDC Partners-owned 72andSunny, out of its Amsterdam office.

Alessandro Benetton, VP at the company and son of Benetton’s founder Luciano, unveiled the campaign on 16th November in Paris. He said in a statement: “It fits perfectly with the values and history of Benetton, which chooses social issues and actively promotes humanitarian causes that could not otherwise have been communicated on a global scale, and in doing so has given a sense and a value to its brand, building a lasting dialogue with the people of the world.”

It’s also a smart move considering the company — which had been building year-over-year sales up through last year — in its latest earnings period saw net income fall 33% to $42.3 million. The dip was largely blamed on economic conditions. Currently Benetton has about 6,000 stores and its 2010 sales figures show that nearly 50% of its business is in Italy, about 30% is the rest of Europe, 16% is Asia, and the remaining 5% is from U.S.A and other parts of the world.

Full credits for the work can be found here.

WOW!

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.