An Ohio auto dealership, declaring that “terrorists are fair game,” is promising to launch “a jihad in the automarket” with an Islamic-themed promotional campaign, despite several radio stations’ rejection of its ad for being “insensitive.”
Keith Dennis of Dennis Mitsubishi in Columbus, who appears in the ad, promises prospective customers that the salesforce “will be wearing burqas all weekend long.” One of the featured vehicles “can comfortably seat up to 12 jihadists in the back,” he says.
“Our prices are lower than the evildoers’ every day. Just ask the pope!” the ad continues. “Friday is fatwa Friday, with free rubber swords for the kiddies.”
Thus far, at least eight stations in the Columbus market have said they won’t air the ad.
“We won’t play that,” Jeff Wilson, general manager of Radio One stations WCKX, WJYD and WXMG told the Columbus Dispatch. “With no disrespect to their creativity or their desire to build business, everything we’re about is promoting the values of diversity. To air things of that sort would go against our mission statement.”
Dennis Mitsubishi spokesman Aaron Masterson says the company, which writes and produces its own ads, was not prepared for the reaction from some stations and admits that the “aggressive” campaign is breaking new ground.
“We talk about the pope, fatwa, terrorists. You hear one of these words, and [the radio executives'] minds froze on it,” he said. “According to the people who have heard it, it is the most controversial commercial they’ve heard in the last 15 years.”
Asma Mobin-Uddin, president of the Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Dispatch that the ad’s tone and imagery were “mocking and disrespectful to many different areas. One is Islamic faith and Islamic culture.”
“Using that as a promotional pitch when so many are dying from the criminal activity of suicide bombers, that’s not funny,” she said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate when it causes real pain. It exploits or promotes misunderstanding in terms already misunderstood or misused. That type of ad does nothing but promote discord in a very difficult time. The timing is just amazing. Maybe that’s part of the shock value.”
Still, Masterson’s neither discouraged nor dissuaded and promised that the commercials would soon air with few changes.
“It starts next Friday morning,” Masterson said. “As far as I can see, the top 10 stations – minimum – in the market. We made it very clear we wanted market saturation to get the point across.
“This is one where we feel we’re taking a bull’s-eye on terrorists. After all the nonsense that the terrorists put the public through, they’re fair game.”