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Posts Tagged ‘no sense of humor’

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I guess when it comes right down to it… the truth really does hurt.

 

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Car Ad Makes Greedy, Violent, Aggressive, Foul-Mouthed Arabs Angrier

by Orly Halpern

JERUSALEM – Israelis are used to being the butt of jokes that focus on stereotypes: Israeli women of Polish descent are said to be cold in bed; Israeli men of Moroccan descent might be asked where they keep their knives; Israelis of Persian background are characterized as stingy.

While Israelis might be used to such stereotyping, Saudi Arabians are not. So when an Israeli television ad campaign showed an Arab man, dressed in robes typical of the oil-rich Persian Gulf region, violently attacking and vehemently cursing a Nissan car for being fuel-efficient, some Saudis called for a boycott of Nissan.

Guy Dayan, an Israeli ad man, said Israeli advertising companies often resort to stereotypes to get consumers’ attention.

“The goal is to make as much buzz as possible,” said Mr. Dayan, manager and co-writer of http://www.mizbala.com, Israel’s leading creative advertising Web blog. “Here in Israel [ad campaigns] enjoy more sting.”

One person who was stung by the Nissan ad was Hannah Suwaid, an Arab member of Israel’s Knesset. “[The commercial] portrays the Arab as a person who is short-tempered, aggressive, and foul-mouthed,” he said, adding that he resented the portrayal of Arabs as greedy people more interested in their own wealth than in fuel conservation.

In late July, he wrote the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the President of Nissan in Japan calling for the commercial to be withdrawn. The Israel Broadcasting Authority did not heed his call. Nissan International, however, did.

Ten days after Mr. Suwaid sent his letter and four days after the Saudi-owned MBC pan-Arab satellite channel led the evening news with a story about the ad, Nissan International contacted Nissan Israel.

“We got a request from Nissan International to remove the ad and not to use it again,” said Daniella Raybenbach, spokesperson for Nissan Israel.

That comes as no surprise. In the MBC coverage, a Saudi representative told the channel that the Persian Gulf Arabs might boycott Nissan and he demanded a company apology. Several Saudi and Arab websites and newspapers called on Arab and Muslim car dealers to boycott Nissan for insulting Arabs. Some Arabs wrote on websites that they would sell their Nissan cars in protest. Others wrote that it was funny, but not coming from Israel.

Saudi Arabia is the largest market for cars in the Arab world. Japanese cars represent some two-thirds of the new car sales in Saudi Arabia, and Nissan is the second most popular brand. In 2007, Nissan Middle East sold 184,000 Nissan cars, while in 2006, Israel sold only 2,653.

Jewish Israelis couldn’t understand why Arabs were irked by the Nissan ad. “Maybe they don’t have a sense of humour,” said Guy Mantsoor, 29, a Tel-Aviv bartender.

“[The Arabs] took it personally – it’s not personal,” said Shay Goren, deputy CEO of McCann-Erickson Israel, one of the country’s top advertising agencies. “[The Gulf Arabs] are just a symbol for rich people. I think it’s a great ad. Our role is to do our job in the best way possible. We don’t need to take into account the feelings of the Arabs.”

Ms. Raybenbach said the commercial created by Inbar-Merhav-Shaked Advertising agency had ended as scheduled at the beginning of last week. Nevertheless, she quickly explained that Nissan Israel had no negative intentions.

“We are sorry that there are people who did not understand the advertisement, and we hope that now, after the subject was clarified, that they understand that it was all done with humour and without any intention to hurt anyone.”

Not everyone in the Israeli ad world would agree. Mr. Dayan acknowledged that he doesn’t like the Israeli approach. “I don’t think cheap provocation should be used to create the buzz,” he said.

-Special to The Globe and Mail

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