The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AMDI) has funded one of its members, blogger and activist Pamela Geller, to create an AD campaign to support the United States in its fight against ISIS; or so they claim. The Ads are set to be displayed on 29 September on 100 MTA buses in New York and hardly show support for the US and their troops. Instead, the ads consist of anti-Islamic slurs and incorporate the faces of James Foley and Adolf Hitler in them. One reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man”.
The problem with these specific ads, is that they targets the Muslim community as a whole which has already seen a rise in hate crimes against them by 143% since last year according to NYPD’s hate crimes task force. Despite backlash from the MTA bus system, the courts have ruled that Geller’s advertisements were a protected right under the First Amendment Rights and they cannot bar her advertisements from their buses because of the content if she has the funds to display them. Because the MTA revised some of their advertising standards, their safety and security director was able to reject some of the proposed advertisements for fear of public endangerment, though the rest will still run. Critics of the advertisements claim that they are racist and discriminatory, and do not benefit the community in any political way.
The tactics used in these ads seem to be fear and hate based, comparing their target to Hitler and using pictures of the now deceased journalist James Foley to sell their point. Personally I think that the use of these advertisements are hateful and do not positively influence the public in any way. Whether intentional or not, the ads are worded in a way that is offensive towards all Muslims, and does not make a clear point. Upon reading these ads I did not feel as though they targeted ISIS, and I did not think they put the AMDI in a positive light. The way you market and advertise yourself to others through promotions and sponsorships helps to determine the way your organization is perceived. I think these ads are detrimental to the organization’s image.
What do you think? Is it ethical to advertise your own personal beliefs if you can afford it? Do you think these ads are appropriate? How do you think these ads are affecting the AMDI’s image?