I was interviewed for the Voice of Israel English News on REKA radio in light of the new Cellcom TV ad. If you are unfamiliar with the ad you might want to check it out first:
Now here is my interview with journalist Idele Ross, as aired earlier today.
Unfortunately the interview was cut short by breaking news just as I finishing making my point. Oh well… Fortunately, the interview was broadcast a second time, this time in its entirety:
Newscaster Naomi Segal: [...] You are tuned to Kol Yisrael, The Voice of Israel, broadcasting from Jerusalem. This week even the New York Times reported on the controversial Israeli television commercial for a cell phone company which shows Israeli soldiers and unseen Palestinians playing soccer over the security fence. Bloggers have been discussing the pros and cons of the commercial which carries the tagline “What do we all want? Some fun, that’s all”. Website designer and digital artist Shahar Golan blogs regularly about the culture of advertising in Israel. He spoke to reporter Idele Ross.
Shahar Golan: Usually when I look at an ad that amazes me at how either politically incorrect or just crass it is, I usually imagine, you know, like an 18 or 20 year old Israeli copywriter thinking about it and for some reason the process never stops at “Okay, that was a nice idea, let’s think deeper, let’s go further” and usually, in my mind at least, it seems like Israelis are making jokes and putting them into ads that really don’t make the cut.
Idele Ross: So why blog about this in English on the Internet? Wouldn’t you be more effective if you were, I don’t know, blogging about it in Hebrew?
Shahar Golan: Yeah, well… My niche is basically writing in English about popular culture and also I blog about Israeli stuff but since I see my audience as the entire world, I just can’t constrain myself into writing in Hebrew which has a definite number of people who can understand it. I write in English and hope that the world reads it and Israelis would make an effort to read it.
Idele Ross: So, among your most recent entries is “Top 10 Most Offensive Israeli Ads – Part 1“, “Top 10 Most Offensive Israeli Ads – Part 2“. Now, based on what’s out there, who’s reading and what kind of responses or talkbacks are you getting?
Shahar Golan: I usually see what people are searching for and basically people are interested in what offends people, either as research or, you know, they’ve seen something that was just so out there that they wanted to share and see who’s been talking about it and that’s how many people come to and find my blog. In the post that you mentioned, basically, I write down about politically incorrect or ads that were made hoping that no one outside Israel would see them. There’s an ad, for instance, for the cable company, HOT, that uses the Vietnam war in a very elaborate musical kinda way but was a bit too much in my opinion, assuming someone will, from the outside world, from the US or from Vietnam, would see it makes light of it just to entertain Israelis and sell a couple of cable subscriptions and that was a bit too much in my opinion.
Idele Ross: Will you be highlighting the most recent, somewhat controversial, Cellcom ad?
Shahar Golan: Right… I’ve been thinking about it, and thinking what I’m thinking about it and what’s my opinion, because basically the ad itself is rather cute, let me say, and that’s what’s rather annoying about it. You know, as Israelis we’re all soldiers at one point or another, and we like our soldiers, so when you’re seeing a couple of soldiers playing soccer in a cutesy kinda way it’s rather nice, but this has further political implications that I’m not sure either the ad company McCann Erickson thought about or the advertiser Cellcom had thought about because this basically moves them into the political conversation and I’m not sure that they want to find themselves there. The ad can be construed as rather controversial, because you see soldiers basically playing over the security fence, the Israeli barrier, but you don’t see their counterparts, you don’t see the Palestinians who are allegedly playing soccer with them, and it’s a convenient way for the company to say, you know, “We are connecting people, we are in communication”, and how easily it is to connect, to move beyond the obstacles, but basically since “the other” is faceless it’s rather crass and a very strange step for the company to engage in this political discussion that probably has no business within the business world.
Newscaster Naomi Segal: Blogger Shahar Golan. The weather outlook for tomorrow through Tuesday…
Update: I have just noticed I was mistaken and the Vietnam war ad I mentioned during the interview was not for Israeli cable television provider HOT, but for Israeli satellite television provider YES. Apparently, aside from leaving a bad aftertaste, the ad was unsuccessful in ‘branding’ me with their product. HOT, YES, it’s all a blur…