Bell pulls 'death camp' ads
Sept 15, 2007 4:30 A.M.
As Toronto's Jewish community celebrated the Jewish New Year, a subway ad campaign for Solo Mobile, which contained a reference to a Nazi death camp, was pulled down Thursday by horrified officials at Bell Canada.
The billboard ads, which appeared in six subways stops in Toronto and in Vancouver and on a number of buses in Vancouver, featured a young Japanese girl dressed in an urban punk style, sporting a number of buttons and accessories.
One of the buttons she was wearing read: "Belsen was a Gas" – referring to the title of a controversial song by the Sex Pistols about Bergen-Belsen, a Second World War concentration camp.
The ads were pulled down almost immediately, said Mark Langton, a spokesperson for Bell Canada, which owns Solo Mobile, a discount brand wireless service, through Bell Mobility.
"It's a bad ad on any day, perhaps particularly so this week," he said yesterday, referring to the fact that Jews across the city and the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, from Wednesday evening till sundown yesterday.
"It was unintended. The reality is we would never knowingly run an ad with an offensive slogan like that."
Bell and its team takes full responsibility for the ad, said Langton, apologizing to "anybody who was offended, distressed or troubled by it, because we were too."
If this was a 'Pistols ad, the outrage would be localized and short-lived; everybody's familiar with Mr. Lydon's lovable shock antics. There's no particular stupid human to blame here - just general dumbness all around. I wish that this was a real 'Pistols ad. Then I'd have loads of commentary.
Say, this reminds me of my favorite joke:
Q. What do you get when you cross the most famous trial lawyer or our time and a premier punk revolutionary?
A. Johnny Rotten Cochrane! Haw haw!
And for some final fun before I go to class, I offer this game: stare at this image intently for 30 seconds without blinking and then stare at a white surface such as a wall or Seth Green's face.