Amid a backlash from Israelis who found Yes' latest television commercial offensive, the spot featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been banned from the airwaves. The satellite television provider, meanwhile, has voluntarily removed it from its website and YouTube.
The commercial features a faux pas by the "Veep" and "Seinfeld" star when she congratulates a colleague on her pregnancy, only to discover that her overweight co-worker isn’t pregnant, she's merely overweight. Louis-Dreyfus then awkwardly tries to fix her error, bungling every attempt by saying something even more offensive.
Her ultimate offense takes place when she tries to say she's sorry, declaring: “I would like to apologize to Betty for thinking she was pregnant. Obviously, she hasn’t dated anyone forever and yeah, you need a man to get … so, um … I’m sorry!”
The ad ends with the tagline “Made a mistake? Just fix it!” and viewers are instructed on how to correct their "mistake" of failing to subscribe to Yes.
Presumably, one can say Yes has learned to fix a mistake – though it would be more accurate to say it was forced to fix it, after the Second Television and Radio Authority ordered the commercial off of the air. The company didn’t change the ad, remove it or apologize after the initial outcry from many women– and overweight people – who found the spot extremely insulting.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the television authority ordered Yes to pull the ad indefinitely, saying, "The Yes commercial has been hurtful to a portion of the public, despite the inherent freedom of speech in advertising media. Should there be a new request to air the spot, the authority will need to re-examine the material and deliberate then."
In its statements to the press, Yes said the insensitive woman portrayed by Louis-Dreyfus was based on characters she had played in her successful comedies, and that if anyone was being ridiculed or humiliated in the ad it was Louis-Dreyfus herself. The company said it had no intention of insulting the overweight, and “if anyone felt offended by it, we apologize.”
A complaint against the ad had been filed by the Na’amat women’s organization and the Yedid Association. Yedid said that in a society where the overweight already face insults, there was “no justification to illustrate the stigma” of a woman being considered too fat to date or have a baby.
The ban and the decision to pull the commercial were ultimately harmless to Yes because, by the time the television authority took action, the campaign had run its course. And the controversy probably caused the ad to be viewed by many more people and made it more memorable than if it had not stirred the pot in the first place.
After all, all publicity is good publicity, many people in the entertainment industry believe. So it's not at all certain that in the corridors of Yes the commercial was viewed as a mistake needing to be fixed.
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