I opened the front page of yesterday’s N.Y. Times Magazine and was greeted by a two page spread promoting Israeli tourism and the 60th anniversary celebration. It was a bit of a shocker. Here’s the copy:
You’ll love Israel from the first “Shalom.” Who can say “Shalom” more eloquently than Maya Weiser? She found her first love–dance–when she was six. She became a member of the Bat Sheva Dance Company, performing in the beautiful Susanne Lelall Center in Tel Aviv, and at New York’s Lincoln Center. Recently she found a second love–saving the animals–so she is studying animal science at Hebrew University. Her next love? A considerable number of young men have their hopes up. Meanwhile, she dances and lives with her cat in the same Tel Aviv apartment where her father grew up.
Israel. We hope to see you soon. Shalom!
I’m no expert on NY Times ad rates but I figure this had to cost them at least $250,000. Here’s background on the campaign:
Israel`s Ministry of Tourism has launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign in North America, designed to boost tourism to Israel from the United States and Canada. The budget for the campaign is an unprecedented $11 million…
“Our goal,” explains Sommer, “is to deflect the constant barrage of negative news images of Israel, and to show the country as it really is: sophisticated, hip, ancient, modern, friendly, spiritual and beautiful.”
What a waste! Not that it is a waste to promote Israel. On the contrary. But it is a waste to promote Israel under false pretences such as this. Look at this image: a beautiful girl, a strikingly modern city skyline. And look at the cool, clear, pristine reflection of the buildings in the water. The flash of this ad is betrayed by the murkiness of almost everything going on within Israel society now. The ad’s clean lines mask an underlying social reality. An Occupation. A nation adrift in despondency in the aftermath of the Lebanon war. A society buffeted by high-level sex and corruption scandals.
And speaking of “spiritual,” let’s juxtapose this ad with today’s headline:
Four children killed in Israeli attack
A PALESTINIAN mother and her four children were killed while eating breakfast yesterday in Gaza when Israeli missiles struck…their house…
I’m no advertising expert so I can’t tell Israel how to promote itself. But I can tell Israel that as long as these headlines come out practically daily, there isn’t a hope in hell that its $11-million tourism campaign will convince anyone other than Israel’s die hard supporters that “No one belongs here more than you,” as the campaign slogan inveigles.
I think the thing that really broke the spell for me regarding this ad was the come-on for all the eligibile male bachelors in the audience–the promise that you too might win Maya Weiser’s hand and heart for your very own…if you but make that trip to Israel. Touching.