The advertising honchos who came up with the latest Wodka Vodka campaign think that you should start associating their product with dogs. Specifically, dogs in costume. Specifically, dogs in costume who are dressed up as Santa Claus and an observant Jew, accompanied by vaguely anti-Semitic innuendo.
After putting up a billboard on New York's West Side Highway late Monday, the company received complaints for the ad (above, before it was taken down), which depicted two dogs wearing a yarmulke and a Santa hat along with the message, "Christmas quality, Hanukkah pricing." In a statement from the Anti-Defamation League, New York regional director Ron Meier called the ad "crude and offensive," arguing that it reasserted the stereotype that "Jews are cheap." Amidst the fracas, Wodka Tweeted an apology and the ad was taken down Tuesday afternoon.
Although Wodka Vodka is no stranger to controversy — one spot on their website reads, "Escort quality, hooker pricing," and is inexplicably accompanied by a picture of a sheep in a sombrero — it's kind of hard to believe that they didn't expect passersby to be put off by the poster, particularly on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which has the third-highest concentration of Jews in the world behind Israel and the cast of a Judd Apatow movie (as of yet unconfirmed by any demographics resource).
While I, a Jew (glimpse into the life of a blogger!), do not personally find the ad offensive, I could see why someone would find the "Hanukkah prices" reference a bit unsavory, especially when coupled with the photo of a cheap-ass collie in a yarmulke. But Brian Gordon, the head of the agency who ran the campaign, is quick to point out that he, too, is Jewish, and doesn't get why people were perturbed by the ad.
"We thought people would perceive it as 'ha ha' quirky," Gordon said (presumably while blushing, shrugging sheepishly, and raising his palms in the air). "But people perceived it as offensive." Yeah? You think, Don Draper?