“Prime does business with anyone, even Jews”

Actually, the lines on the billboard hoisted atop of Wellington’s Wakefield Street earlier this week read: "Advertising agency seeks clients -- all business considered, even from Jews."

The sign purports to be an advertisement for a new Golden Globe-winning series on Prime TV called Mad Men, a 13-part drama having to do with what its advance publicity describes as “the glory years of advertising.”

In another lifetime we also worked in the advertising business as a copywriter -- a few decades after this show’s setting in the 1960s, it’s true -- but we don’t recall ever hearing such sentiments expressed even by the most doltish creative or working suit.

More to the point, we haven’t been able to find a single instance of this drama being promoted abroad in such a fashion, no doubt with good reason.

Most advertising codes of ethics, after all, contain prohibitions similar to the New Zealand code, which requires that promotions “should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society.”

The local code also states: “Advertisements should not contain anything which in the light of generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or widespread offence taking into account the context, medium, audience and product (including services).”

Anxious as it naturally is to shore up its ratings, Prime seems to have chosen its latest advertising line to be as offensive as possible, thereby attracting as much attention as it can, and rather demeaning itself in the process.

All things considered, the free-to-air network’s latest corporate standards don’t appear much more enlightened than the fictional advertising agency showcased in its new drama series. Talk about a bunch of Shylocks.

UPDATE: The Draft FCB-created billboards in Wellington and Auckland pitching the new programme have now been removed, the Dominion Post reports. An apology is also to be published in the local edition of TIME, which published a two-page advertisement modelled along similar lines to the billboards.

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It seems so. They have also ordered all the billboards be taken down-or so I'm told.

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