A billboard for one of Wodka advertisements displayed in NYC was taken down. This followed several complaints of people and organizations which considered the message conveyed by the ad as anti-Semitic. New York Times described the billboard as featuring two dogs, one wearing a yarmulke and the other a Santa hat alongside the words “Christmas quality, Hanukkah pricing”.
People reacted almost immediately after the communication campaign was launched. Its fast reaction to the advertisement was as prompt as it was dismissive of its content. The billboard controversial message was described as “crude and offensive” by the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Ron Meier. He considered using Jewish holidays as money symbols “insensitive and inappropriate”.
Brian Gordon, head of the company which designed the billboard, declined any intent in creating an offensive message. They were expecting the words to be perceived as a joke. Yet, when it was clear people understood it as offensive the company took the billboard down. Times reported that Gordon was quick to mention he was also Jewish.
Wodka apologized as well, shortly after the reaction of the public, at the aid of their Twitter account. “Although rarely serious, we apologize to anyone we may have offended through our holiday campaign and are removing our billboard immediately”, they wrote.
However, at a closer look on the company’s Twitter account posts, Gawker found several other messages which could be described as controversial. A different ad shows a “Jewish” dog posing with Jonathan Cheban. In another picture included in a tweet, the company had a sheep wearing a sombrero next to a Wodka bottle. Another advertisement entitled “black Russian” featured a black man wearing a fuzzy Russian hat.