I have so much pain inside me that I can cry at will
Lisa Stemple (Anne Ramsay) – Mad About You
I have so much pain inside me that I can cry at will
Lisa Stemple (Anne Ramsay) – Mad About You
Over the years, the Israeli ad agencies seem less and less connected to the human experience and more and more willing to use anything to sell everything. In this list I attempt to countdown the most offensive advertisements created in Israel in recent years, in the hope of using shame as an incentive to be more creative.
With millions of Vietnamese dead and 60,000 Americans dead, this ad counts on its viewers inability to feel any empathy to casualties of a war that is not their own.
With more than 1500 people who drowned in one of the worst maritime disasters, the creative genius of Israel’s leading advertising agency adds insult to injury and in an impressive juglling act puts the wheel of the liner in a woman’s hands.
2005 – Cellcom I Mode – McCann Erickson
Three million dollars to teach Israelis to count to three in Japanese
Israeli wireless telecom provider Cellcom imported from Japan DoCoMo’s I Mode, a cellular content platform. Sure of itself, as companies tend to be in this period of late capitalism, the company did not bet on its customers’ positive experiences to gradually conquer the market. Instead Cellcom spent 3 million dollars (count them, ichi, ni, san million dollars) on a marketing campaign that would not stop.
After weeks of broadcasting a teaser, promising, how cliché, ‘the next big thing’, the company used TV ads to introduce the technology, and newspaper ads to explain why we must have it.
Surely enough, with so much hubris – the wrath of the gods had to produce a tragic end. The service was a complete failure and people today do not even remember what Cellcom I Mode is.
2005 – Tnuva – Shoko Shock Milk Chochlate Drink – McCann Erickson
10 million dollars to downgrade a succesful product
Leading Israeli food company Tnuva, have launched a new product, investing 8 million dollars in research and development, and 1.5 million dollars in marketing. This might be a good example of ad agencies creating a need for their own services, as the new product, Schoko Shock, replaces two older products, Schoko Carlo, and Schoko Buddy, which were very popular. Of course, Tnuva could not be bothered with its customers trying out the product and deciding for themselves. Oh, no, the company would have none of that. Instead, as part of the marketing campaign, the company published an apology in the newspaper, falsely stating it cannot produce the product fast enough, as it is flying off the shelves.
Surely enough, with so much hubris – the wrath of the gods had to produce a tragic end. After so much money spent, the new product sold less than the old products, as it did not have their good reputation.
End of Part 1
The Israeli Internet, the collective knowledgebase consisting of websites created and maintained by Israelis, is plagued, in my opinion, with problems that should have disappeared long ago. Well into its second decade, the Israeli net shows a lot of the symptoms that Israeli society show, including short memory, turf wars and little transparency. Here are the top annoyances that bug me every single day:
It is no wonder this Hebrew word is well known around the world. The famous Israeli impudence is embedded in the Israeli net, most notably visible with leading websites shoving pop-up ads into their visitors’ faces, often hiding or delaying the option to close the window, and accompanying the graphics with music or narration. And we are not talking about your run of the mill pr0n site doing it – these are Israel’s leading web portals.
The net is the platform onto which humankind is documenting its knowledge, but not in Israel. It is common practice in the IsraNet for webmasters to stop supporting old pages upon upgrading their websites. Similarly, leading companies open an Ad Hoc website for a marketing campaign (e.g. new movie, new snack food), stop updating it after a month, and letting it close at the end of the year.
It seems that the golden rule for webmasters here can be summed up to one sentence: ‘If it works in Internet Explorer – then it works fine’. Nowhere else in the world can one find such poor compliance with HTML rules and the inevitable result is that IE is the only browser that guarantees Israeli websites would show up. Now, granted, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser is as popular here as it is around the world, and private websites can be given some slack, but when the leading Israeli banks manage websites that do not show up on the second most popular browser – it is simply unacceptable. Adding insult to injury, the banks’ own website boast about their great strides for internet security, all the while forcing every one of their customers to use the most unsafe browser ever invented.
This Land Is My Land
In the ancient land of Canaan, netizens mark their territory just as canines do. Israelis are obsessed with taking credit, rather than getting credit. No TV program is ripped without first embedding the nickname of the kid who had done it, no subtitle file is uploaded without the translator adding some thank you lines for his own hard work, and most images are watermarked from here to oblivion, regardless if they are an original work or not.
Website for Every Worker
It is surprising how many successful artists do not foster a website. Singers who perform in sold out venues, who employ managers and PR people, do not see the benefits in having a website – or they do have a website, a fluffy one with almost no content and no updates.
We Don’t Need No (More) Stinking Knowledge
It seems Israeli news websites are certain they are the alpha and omega, as they seldom add links for additional knowledge, even when the entire article discusses a new website. With the nature of the Hebrew language, foreign names can be spelled in different ways. This means that the nasty habit of Israeli websites to not add the English spelling of a name, sends readers into a search frenzy just to track down the discussed website or person. When a recent article discussed Congressman Keith Ellison, it forced readers wanting to read more on the official website to do a lot of searching, as a link was not provided and the Hebrew spelling of Ellison can also be translated back to Alison, Allison and Elison.
Sub Par Subdomains
When the three letters, WWW, were arbitrarily chosen as the default subdomain back in the days, no one probably thought the internet was destined to be surfed by laymen who would grow to expect the tongue tying prefix. Nowadays, people all over the world type in mail.google.com or movies.yahoo.com – but not in Israel. The triple double u’s have become synonymous in Israel with a website’s address, so much so that people do not understand how to type in mail.yahoo.com upon request. Instead of educating the masses, websites tend to use a lot of slashes, thus many radio ads quote website addresses full of slashes or unneeded sub-subdomains (e.g. www.hachvana.mod.gov.il)
Your Ad Here
Many websites choose not to have an independent website and reside under an irrelevant domain, chose only for its monetary values. When Israeli number one radio station’s website is glglz.msn.co.il you know something is wrong. Usually, as with the mentioned example, the collaboration ends after some time, and the website ceases to work (see ‘You’re History’ )
In light of the 2007 Israeli Pride Parade, commencing today at noon in Tel-Aviv, and later this month in Jerusalem (God willing), and in light of two recent articles discussing the ‘Glass Closet‘ (Michael Musto for Out Magazine, Gal Uchovsky for Time Out Tel-Aviv), I just wanted to convey it is a shame that successful people in the media cannot summon up the courage it takes to come out of the closet, and become a role model for teenagers struggling in life. Izhar Cohen missed the opportunity to tackle gay invisibility in the seventies, Ofra Haza missed the opportunity to raise AIDS awareness in the nineties, but it is never too late to be a hero in the eyes of Israeli teens. I reckon that singers with sold-out events and songwriters who write hit songs about love, have no business avoiding what everyone in this tiny country already knows.
Here are some positive role models:
And others who can be positive role models:
In a changing world
There’s so much you could be
Why can’t you choose your self
Like your enemy?
Have you ever imagined
A new you?
I could be someone else
I want a positive role model
– – From The Musical ‘Closer To Heaven’ by the Pet Shop Boys
Update: On December 23, 2009 singer-songwriter Yehudit Ravitz finally came out as a lesbian. This post was joyfully updated to reflect the news.
Update #2: On March 18, 2010 singer-songwriter Yehuda Poliker sorta-kinda came out. In a Channel 10 documentary film he used wording that left many disappointed. On July 16, 2010 in a newspaper interview in Yedioth Ahronoth, Poliker finally admitted falling in love in the past with men. Only then was this post finally updated to reflect the news.
Update #3: On October 22, 2010 singer Harel Skaat came out as gay. This post was joyfully updated to reflect the news.
Update #4: On December 30, 2011 comedienne Orna Banai came out as a lesbian. This post was joyfully updated to reflect the news.
We all misspell, no doubt about it, even more so when using a language other than our mother tongue. But lately it seems there is an inverse relationship between the Israelis’ infatuation with the English language, and their actual interest in mastering it. It always dazzles me how companies spend piles of money on advertisements without spending a minute to check for spelling errors. Israeli food company Elite backs its snacks campaign with a website for kids, where they can start their own blog and get popularity votes for it. I can only speculate what is the effect of a kid typing daily www.tatoomania.co.il and then going off to the world wondering why everyone is spelling it with three T’s.
And don’t get me started on sticker tattoos for kids, kiddie blogs as pedophile hangouts, the unnecessary rating system on that website, or the fat contents in the snacks you need to buy to get the tattoo.
This is a screenshot of an ad for 'Sexy Girls in Kefar Habad' (photos blurred by me), supposedly trying to lure me for some pr0n by an IP-to-city query. Nevermind that I do not live near Kefar Habad, but I doubt there are many sexy girls looking for fun there – as it is an all ultra-Orthodox Jewish village in central Israel.