For Some Israeli Advertisers War Is an Opportunity

A few have risked charges of cynicism to identify with the troops.

Ofer Vaknin

Somebody behind the marketing of Noblus cigarettes couldn’t resist the opportunity that came with Operation Protective Edge. Dubek has been running television ads declaring, “Noblesse salutes the security forces everywhere, no matter what.”

On the home front, Delta Galil, the maker of underwear and other apparel, ran a newspaper campaign directed at Israelis spending nights in public shelters. “Aren’t you embarrassed to sit next to neighbors every night in the same pajamas?”

Most advertisers have opted to lay low during the nearly four weeks of fighting in Gaza, cutting down spending and postponing campaigns. But a survey by TheMarker has found that a few have risked controversy by identifying with the war effort.

The advertising research group Ifat said the biggest spender in the category was Kupat Holim Clalit. The health maintenance organization has budgeted an estimated 1.4 million shekels ($410,000) on print and TV ads with the slogan, “We have complete confidence in our medical teams,” accompanied by a list of its clinics in the war-battered south.

Bank Leumi isn’t far behind with what Ifat estimated is a 1.23 million-shekel campaign and Bank Hapoalim with a 920,000-shekel budget. But advertising professionals warned they are taking a risk.

“Many advertisers fear the cynicism and hostility it would create against companies and organizations. On the other hand, large companies are contributing a lot to the soldiers and residents of the south, which is unmatched, “ said Ido Har-Tuv, co-CEO of the ad firm Gitam BBDO.

Cellcom Israel, for instance, has supplied troops at the front with cellphone rechargers and sent in mobile repair centers, but it has declined to run a parallel ad campaign. “Advertisers, soldiers and the home front work together, but many times the fear of public cynicism prevents advertisers from publicizing their activities. The fear creates a domino effect on the entire advertising market,” said Har-Tuv.

One company that didn’t hesitate was Negev Ceramics, more than half whose 2,000 employees are based in the south, with slogans like, “We embrace every soldier, resident of the south and citizen of Israel” and “It’s important to stay strong and united.”

“We’re very much a part of the Israeli experience, especially the south’s, because we have factories there,” said CEO Avi Motola. “We didn’t publicize all the donations we’ve made to the south, rather we chose a message about how we need to be united at a time like this.”