Yes Elaine, Israelis can discern tastelessness
The old adage that any publicity is good publicity is being put to the test by Israeli cable provider YES. A seemingly innocuous TV ad to attract subscribers starring American comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus must have seemed like a winning combination, but as Allison Kaplan Sommer pointed out in her blog on Haaretz, the backfire could light up the sky on a moonless night.
The campaign focuses around the tag line “Made a mistake? Just fix it!” and viewers they are told how to fix their ‘mistake’ of signing up for cable and how to switch to YES satellite, the main competitor for the other big Israeli cable provider HOT (neither of them are very good, actually – how many times can you watch American Pie 4?)
The commercial starts in an elevator where Louis-Dreyfus encounters a large colleague munching on a bag of potato chips, pats her on the stomach and congratulates her on her pregnancy. “Oh, my god! Congratulations! I bet it’s a girl.” Oops. The colleague, she learns, isn’t pregnant – she’s just fat.
The action proceeds with Louis-Dreyfus demonstrating ways to correct her mistake, only to offend and annoy others in the process. Ultimately, she concedes and tries to say she’s sorry. She stands up in front of her co-workers: “I would like to apologize to Betty for thinking she was pregnant. Obviously, she hasn’t dated anyone forever and yeah, you need a man to get … so, um … I’m sorry!”
As expected, the backlash from what used to be called ‘feminists’ but now is just mainstream correctness, began immediately, with Sommer writing that the Na’amat Israel women’s had complained to Israel’s Second Television and Radio Authority public ombudsman about the condescending and insulting message contained in the ad.
YES has gotten into trouble in the past with their ads, spoofing an Israeli attack on an Iranian nuclear power plant. That may have just angered the Iranians, but this time, even though they may think they’re just skirting the edge of tastelessness, they’ve actually fallen right in.