New Saudi Television Commercial Spokesman Kicks Off A Furor

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First a wacky Korean advertiser uses a Kim Jong Un lookalike to sell pistachio nuts in a television spot. And now those zany Saudi Arabians have gone them one better. Saudi-owned satellite network MBC Action has started airing promos starring none other than Adolph Hitler, according to a September 21 YNet News report.

Actually, it’s not the genocidal Nazi humself back from the grave. It’s a lookalike in scenes from an American feature-length movie.

The ad campaign for MBC Action, which is based in Dubai, features clips from the 2009 Quentin Tarantino film “Inglourious Basterds,” where the Nazi dictator is shown speaking in a room to other Nazi officials.

Arabic subtitles inserted under the images focus on the television network’s new programming in September. Hitler is made to say, “Look at the achievements of MBC Action. They will control the entire region. They are preparing for a campaign called ‘September to Remember.’”

Hitler, by the way, created the original September to Remember when, 73 Septembers ago, he launched an invasion of Poland, starting World War II. Pretty memorable, huh?

The fuhrer kicks off a furor

The Hitler promo campaign has created something of a, uh, furor in the United States.

Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman called the campaign “offensive and obnoxious.” But then, he’s not exactly part of the Saudi network’s target demographic.

“Perhaps someone thought all of this was funny,” he said,

but one wonders how it will play across the Arab World, where there is scant education about the murder of six million Jews and millions of others by Hitler and the Nazis and where Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism are rampant.

Why would a Saudi media outlet want to associate itself with one of history’s most demonic mass murderers?

Of course, in noting that “across the Arab World…Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism are rampant,” Foxman answered his own question.

Hitler sells in the Middle East

The fact is, “[t]his isn’t the first time marketers have used the image of Hitler to boost ratings, or as self-promotion,” reporter Daniel Koren explains.

In India, there’s a store named “Hitler.”

In Dubai, a gym called the Circuit Factory ran an online ad showing entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp over the headline, “Kiss your calories goodbye.”

And in March, 2012, a Turkish shampoo called Biomen ran a 30-second television commercial using Hitler as its spokesman. Over closeup footage of him orating at some kind of Nazi rally, they dubbed in a voice saying (in Turkish), “If you’re not wearing women’s clothes, you shouldn’t be using women’s shampoo. Here it is, a real men’s shampoo – Biomen.”

Both the Circuit Factory ad and the Biomen spot got pulled after public protest. But as for MBC Action’s Hitler campaign…well, we’ll probably have to, regretfully, wait eight days until the calendar puts an end to their “September to Remember.”

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