A new commercial by Turkish cosmetics company B'iota Laboratories has sparked outrage in Turkey and beyond for using old footage of Adolf Hitler to help sell men's shampoo. The ad is dubbed with a Turkish voiceover that states, "If you're not wearing women's clothes, you shouldn't be using women's shampoo either. Here it is. A real man's shampoo. Biomen. Real men use Biomen."
It's bad enough that the spot implies that men who wash their hair with women's shampoo are girly-men (clearly the real crime being committed), but then to show Hitler shilling for a commercial product is pretty crass. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet described the spot as irresponsible and tasteless, while leaders of Turkey's Jewish community have demanded that the commercial be removed.
Turkey is home to about 20,000 Jews, who reside mostly in predominantly Islamic Istanbul, home to around fourteen million Muslims. Recently, Turkey's Jewish leaders have been concerned about growing anti-Semitism, and this recent controversy prompted Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor, to write on his group's website:
"The use of images of the violently anti-Semitic dictator who was responsible for the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to sell shampoo is a disgusting and deplorable marketing ploy. It is an insult to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, those who survived, and those who fought to defeat the Nazis. This video is just the latest example of the use of Holocaust imagery in some countries to sell commercial products, which has contributed to the trivialization of and desensitization to the unparalleled horrors of the Holocaust."
Turkey's state television network has yet to pull the commercial. I'm reminded of the Dubai gym whose ad campaign earlier this year displayed an image of Auschwitz with the caption: "Kiss your calories goodbye." Responding to protests, they ceased the online campaign and wound up donating money to charity. Here's hoping B'iota follows in their footsteps.