Marketing Company Pulls Ad, But Wodka CEO Says He's The One Offended

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An advertisement for a brand of vodka caused quite a stir in Manhattan.

Wodka Vodka had a large billboard overlooking the West Side Highway with the slogan “Christmas Quality, Hanukkah Pricing.”

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The Anti-Defamation League called the ad “crude and offensive,” and said in a press release it “reinforces anti-Semitic stereotypes.”

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“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,” said the Anti-Defamation League’s New York Director Ron Meier.

The ADL called on the company to remove the ads. The ad was down as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, reported CBSNewYork’s Evan Bindelglass.

“The word quality is right next to Christmas. So anyone seeing it would look at it and say ‘Christmas is quality.’ The holiday of Hanukkah is not only not quality, it combines the Jews and money — the old stereotype about Jews being cheap,” ADL Deputy Regional Director Ken Jacobsen told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

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New York advertising guru Jerry Della Femina went a step further, suggesting company heads might want to sober up.

“If they sat down and said how can we offend everyone? They managed to do it. They offended everyone,” Della Femina told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis on Tuesday night.

Wodka CEO James Dale told Dennis the ad was never intended to be offensive, but irreverent like other ads in the campaign, reportedly including ones which read “Movie Star Quality, Reality Star Pricing,” “Escort Quality, Hooker Pricing” and “Hamptons Quality, Newark Pricing.”

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“We’re surprised. We’re surprised people are vitriolicly offended by what we’ve done. It’s all about value and quality,” Dale said.

Dale also said he’s offended, adding he’s been taking calls with death threats. He said despite having several Jewish employees, he’s being compared to a Nazi, all over a billboard.

“This is a premium vodka, at a value price. That’s all we’re saying,” Dale said.

Wodka Vodka is made by Panache Beverages, which is based in the Flatiron District.

The marketing company, Miami MG, told CBS 2 that “we’ve heard people loud and clear and people have misunderstood what we were trying to communicate, so we’re gonna pull the ad.”

Miami MG earlier released a statement defending the ad.

“The inspiration for Hanukkah’s inclusion was anything but anti-Semitic – in fact, we’re likening ourselves to the Jewish holiday. Simply put, Hanukkah represents a better value because you get 8 nights for the price of 1 – much like Wodka, more for less.

“Hopefully this response will help re-focus you on all of the serious places where anti-Semitism does exist – however it doesn’t exist anywhere in our marketing.”

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