Forward Thinking

Talking Back to Anti-Muslim Subway Ads

By Michael Kaminer

Akiva Freidlin’s maternal grandparents came from Warsaw and most of their family was killed in the Holocaust.

So when the 30-year-old non-profit staffer saw subway posters “demonizing” Muslims last December, his “historical memory” kicked in. Alongside an image of the blazing Twin Towers, the ads attributed this quote to the Koran: “Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.”

Freidlin’s response to the controversial anti-Islam campaign from the Jewish-led American Freedom Defense Initiative: “Talk Back to Hate”, an advertising effort aimed at countering AFDI’s “craven and cynical” message.

The inaugural Talk Back to Hate ad is a stylized apple bearing the inscription, “Hatred Is Easy. It Is Love That Requires True Strength and Courage.” The line came from Dorothy Zink, a volunteer from Huntington Beach, Calif.

Entirely crowdfunded, Freidlin’s campaign has raised more than $10,000 from as far as Dubai. Much of the funding paid for the first ten “Talk Back to Hate” ads in high-traffic New York City subway stations like Times Square and Rockefeller Center (for ad locations, see here). The ads will appear throughout New York until March 24.

Freidlin’s now raising money for another flight. “Don’t let hate get the last word,” implores the Talk Back to Hate site. “If you chip in, we’ll buy our own ads — and run them in as many stations as we can.”

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Fizzing for Trouble With Super Bowl Ad?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Move over Bud Lite and GM, SodaStream is coming to the Super Bowl XLVII. While the Israeli-made home soda maker will not be seen in the stands, it will be viewed on TV screens across the country and around the world, making it the first Israeli product to be advertised in a Super Bowl commercial.

With record third quarter revenues and sales increases, it appears that SodaStream is ready to drop something in the environs of $3.8 million on a 30-second spot.

Those who follow the advertising business may be wondering if the company, which has been publicly traded on Nasdaq since November 2010) will change concepts for its Super Bowl ad, given the frustration it has endured recently as a result of its current commercial showing hundreds of soft drink bottles exploding when a person uses a SodaStream machine. The message is obvious—you can save a lot of plastic (2,000 bottles per year, the ad tells us) and a lot of money by buying a SodaStream.

SodaStream claims it is simply “setting the bubbles free,” as it slogan goes, but Clearcast, the organization that pre-approves television advertising in the UK, banned the commercial on the grounds that it “denigrates” the bottled drink industry. In response, SodaStream is investigating its legal options.

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Taking Aim at Obama on Israel

By Nathan Guttman

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President Barack Obama

A political strategy attributed to Republican mastermind Karl Rove advocates going after your rival’s strengths, not his weaknesses. The classic example, of course, is the 2004 Swift Boat attack ads against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. The ads went after Kerry’s perceived strength, his war hero credentials, and succeeded in shaking his image.

The new ad put out Friday by the Republican Jewish Coalition seems to be following this strategy. President Obama has made his strong commitment to Israel’s security the cornerstone of his appeal to Jewish pro-Israel voters, citing Israeli officials who have hailed his transfer of defense and weapons technologies to Israel that even the previous Bush administration prohibited. Obama’s critics, meanwhile, have focused on his administration’s opposition to Israeli settlement expansion on the West Bank and a rocky personal relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Now Republicans believe they have found a way to attack Obama’s perceived strength on Israel. “President Obama’s rhetoric would have you believe he’s doing all he can for Israel’s security,” states the new RJC ad. “The reality is he wants to slash American support for Israel’s critical defense.”

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