Earlier this week, the Wodka Vodka company slapped up a billboard along the West Side Highway featuring two dogs—one wearing a yarmulke and another in a Santa hat—with the copy "Christmas quality, Hanukkah pricing." The "joke," as if you needed it spelled out for you, is that the Jews like cheap crap while the Goys like paying through the nose for luxury. Immediately after Gawker reported on the billboard's existence, controversy ensued, surprising no one. And that's why you're reading about Wodka Vodka today, even after the billboard was removed. Whoever does their marketing is getting a nice Hanukkah bonus this year!
Ron Meier, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, promptly fired off a statement calling the ad "crude and offensive. Particularly with the long history of anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money, with the age-old notion that Jews are cheap, to use the Jewish holiday in dealing with issues of money is clearly insensitive and inappropriate."
After the predictable backlash and media exposure , Wodka Vodka Tweeted an apology yesterday saying: "Although rarely serious, we apologize to anyone we may have offended, and are removing our billboard immediately." City Councilwoman Gale Brewer praised the billboard placement company's decision to yank the ad, "The lesson here is simple: messages occupying public space cannot become platforms for vulgarity and invidious stereotypes."
The Times notes that Wodka is known for "shock advertising" intended to draw attention and generate controversy. A previous ad carried the text “Hamptons quality. Newark pricing." (We don't see what's so shocking about that, but anyway.) Brian Gordon, who runs the company that designed the campaign, denied the billboard was shock advertising, and told the Times, "We thought people would perceive it as 'ha ha quirky.' But people perceived it as offensive, and because of that, we pulled it." The billboard was taken down yesterday, and the Times reports they left it in a "crumpled heap near the road." Which, coincidentally, is how every experience with Wodka Vodka comes to an end.