Turkish shampoo ad
Image grab from a Turkish shampoo TV ad featuring Adolf Hitler.
Text size

A Turkish shampoo commercial featuring footage showing Adolf Hitler giving a speech was taken off the air on Wednesday, following protests by the local Jewish community.

The 13-second television spot for Biomen shampoo shows black-and-white archival footage of the Nazi leader at a political rally. Dubbed in Turkish, he shouts that men should not use women's shampoo.

"Using Hitler, whose brutal ideology caused the deaths of millions of people, in a commercial in order to be different or create awareness (of a product) is unacceptable," a statement posted on Istanbul's chief rabbinate's website said on Monday.

The rabbinate contacted Istanbul-based Biota Laboratories - which makes Biomen - to ask them to pull the ad but the company has so far declined to scrap it, saying the commercial's message was humorous, Jewish community leader Silvyo Ovadya told Reuters.

Speaking to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, head of the advertising agency M.A.R.K.A, which produced the commercial, said that, while he stood behind the ad, his firm decided to take it off the air following public backlash.

“Several Jewish Turkish citizens sent us e-mails criticizing the ad and we decided to take it off the air,” he said, adding, however, that the ad was meant to mock, not praise the Nazi dictator.

“If Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was giving a speech instead of Adolf Hitler in the commercial, people would to react as if we were mocking him. When it is Hitler, they say we are promoting [him],” Hulusi Derici told Hurriyet.

Jewish leaders have expressed concern about rising anti-Semitism in Turkey since relations with Israel, a former military ally, soured after the 2010 raid by Israeli commandos of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-led humanitarian aid ship bound for Gaza. Nine Turkish activists, one with dual U.S. citizenship, died in the raid.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League said it was "repulsed" by the use of Hitler's image to sell shampoo.

"The use of images of the violently anti-Semitic dictator who was responsible for the mass murder of 6 million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to sell shampoo is a disgusting and deplorable marketing ploy," said Abraham H. Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director and a Holocaust survivor, in a statement on the group's website.