Jeffrey Goldberg’s favorite Israeli ad is back

All this talk of Verizon ads – the post Verizon: Stop playing that goddamn Mother’s Day ad is now the most-viewed post in this blog’s short history, and seems to have worked to boot! – reminds me that I’ve been meaning to follow up on the ad campaign that marked Paper Treiger’s public debut: the infamous Ministry of Immigrant Absorption ads skewered by Jeffrey Goldberg, among others.

We’re coming up on six months now since the ads caused a stir, and I would imagine it’s also been a while since you last heard of them. I imagine you imagined they’ve been put to rest.

Well, you’d be wrong.

While the Christmas ad was taken down from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s official Youtube Channel, the Memorial Day and the ‘Daddy‘ ads are still up. This isn’t all that surprising, though I do find it ironic that the video Goldberg focused on, and that therefore started the furor by proxy, is still up.

What I did find mildly surprising is that the video that seemed to garner the least attention the first time around – ‘daddy’ – has been repurposed, sort of:

The live-action portion of the ad has been shortened – though it still contains the basic formula: ‘abba, abba, daddy’ – but more importantly, the message at the end has been altered: Where the original was titled ‘Before ‘Abba’ becomes ‘Daddy’ – it’s time to come back to Israel’, the new video tries to deflect attention, with the inspiring name, ‘Benefits package for returning citizens’.

And while the original voiceover/conclusion said, ‘They will always remain Israelis; their children won’t’, the repurposed ad says ‘You should wake up before this offer ends! The benefits offer ends September 30, 2012.* For upcoming events in your area, or for additional information, visit the website:’

*that gives any Israeli living abroad exactly four days from the end of Yom Kippur to repent, just in time for aliyah l’regel

And while criticizing the original campaign was easy – seriously, everybody got in on it – this iteration is easy, too. I understand that the ministry is operating under budget constraints – I can’t imagine the original campaign earned them a great deal of trust from the Netanyahu government – and really needed to reuse some existing footage, but sometimes when you have a toxic property, it’s just worth cutting bait (pun intended).

That the newer campaign tries to play off the father-son interaction as a simple wake up – and not a sign of the apocalypse – is nice progress, but it’s not fooling anybody. It’s as if that Verizon ad ended with a voiceover: ‘Stop crying in time to meet the cute salesman’, or ‘You can wipe your nose with a phone – but maybe a tissue would work better’, or some other punchline that betrayed a willful lack of sequitur with what precedes it. That campaign might even be bad enough to spark a boycott!

Ads typically end with witty punchlines. Sometimes they don’t. But when they do, those lines typically follow (logically, that is).

Blog posts also typically end with witty punchlines. Sometimes they don’t. This one doesn’t.


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