Israeli Advertisers Cast Wary Eye on the Upsurge in Violence

Companies are careful about images, delaying launches.

Yariv Fein and Guy Kushi

The violence that has gripped Israel the last two weeks hasn’t escaped the world of advertising and marketing, with companies delaying product launches and in a few cases pulling ads that might inadvertently arouse controversy.

Delta Galil, the apparels maker altered the photograph in an ad featuring the celebrity Ninet Tayeb because it showed a knife in her hand, even though it was clearly in order to peel the mango she was holding in the other hand.

“In a reality like ours even the most ordinary activity like peeling fruit in the kitchen can be arouse feeling so we decided in the company to replace the picture for the stake of public sensitivities,” said a Delta spokesperson.

Dedi Shwartzberg, co-CEO of Golf Online and the fashion website Adika, said he had wanted to open a pop-up store – a retail outlet open for only a few days or weeks – at Jerusalem’s Malha shopping mall. But he’s putting off his places for now.

“I’m afraid of putting customers or employees at risk – I’m not taking chances like this right now,” he explained. “The pop-up store we opened at Dizeongoff Square in Tel Aviv two weeks ago we’re continuing to operate.”

Ronit Levy, whose mobile app Take a Look offers fashion tips from leading stylists, is putting off a launch party she had planned for next Thursday. “Due to the situation and people’s lack of interest in shopping or worrying about their appearance, we decided to postpone the event until better days. The event was supposed to help us create collaborations with retail chains but everything right now is stuck,:” she said.

The unrest is coming at a awkward time when many big advertisers are preparing in the middle, or even completing, their 2016 marketing programs, said Moti Scherf, CEO of Scherf Communications, a public relations and marketing consulting firm.

“Executives are asking themselves if they need to price [the unrest] in and factor it into their programs. The problem is that no one knows, so they’re all sitting on the fence,” Scherf said.

Economists are debating what will be the economic impact of the unrest if it continues for a long period. The second intifada in 2000-05 helped push the Israeli economy into its deepest recession ever for two years, but the economy has traditionally bounced back from shorter conflicts like Operation Protective Edge last summer

In contrast to European companies, Israeli businesses are used to coping with a volatile security environment, he added. “An Israeli corporate executive is used to it and takes into account when he he’s planning, knowing that any at minute everything could change – that his employees might be afraid to leave the house, his customers go into hiding and his country might go to war or not.”

That has an effect on business. “Companies are looking ahead with caution and hope this won’t turn into an intifada because they know the economic impact of something this will have on business,” Scherf said.

“Many companies have frozen grandiose launches and campaigns. I’m telling my clients, “If you are launching a product, service or new location, wait. People are afraid to congregate and the atmosphere isn’t conducive for events,’” Scherf says.

But he’s optimistic. He has what he called the “three-day test:” If violence subsides that long, companies should feel more comfortable about dusting off their plans and camapigns.