There is a national Stanley Steemer TV commercial airing at this time that is just blanketing the airwaves. It celebrates the holidays and shows portraits of families enjoying Christmas and Hanukkah.
Since I am stuck at home, like a lot of folks, I watch too much TV. And this ad has offended me to the point that I had to speak out.
Here’s the problem…The Christmas shot is just fine. But the Hanukkah spot shows a menorah full of candles and a man lighting them with a match. Now if you aren’t Jewish, you probably haven’t noticed anything odd.
For over 2000 years, Jews have been celebrating the Festival of Lights by lighting 8 candles for every day signifying a supply of oil for illumination during a fierce battle with the reigning Greek Empire in 200 B.C. The Greeks outlawed Judaism and persecuted the Jews. A small army, called the Maccabees, rebelled and fought the Greeks after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Maccabees set up a temporary altar and placed a menorah with only enough oil for one day. It lasted 8 days and was considered a miracle.
During the Hanukkah (the english translation is “Rededicated) celebration, Jews from all over the world light their own menorah candles…starting with one candle for the first day and adding another each day til the 8 days of the commemoration concludes. The middle, or 9th candle, is called the ‘helper candle’ and is used to light each candle for the 8 days. This is how it has been done for two millenia. This is tradition.
Stanley Steemer put out this national campaign and shows a man’s hand using a match to light the candles instead of the traditional Shamash, or helper candle. I know a lot of non-Jews are thinking so what? But if you use a religious tradition to market your wares, the least you can do is spend 5 minutes on Wikipedia to see how it’s done.
Now if the scene with the family enjoying their Christmas meal had a decorated tree in the background upside down, I bet you’d notice and wonder what the hell are they doing?
I reached out to Stanley Steemer and told them how I felt that they were disrespecting the Jewish people in a national ad campaign. I got a form email back…blah, blah, blah. And they never got back to me with a sincere phone call or a non-computer generated email.
I contacted the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, who shows the ad regularly, and explained my issues with this ad. Half an hour after submitting the email to the general manager of the station, he called me.
We discussed the issue and he agreed this was not acceptable. I then asked that they must have Jews working at the station and no one noticed this? He said yeah, plenty of Jews but no one had said a thing.
We talked for a while and I was satisfied that Mr. Poss was a good man and truly understood the slight by Stanley Steemer. So, I called off my two buddies that are ex-Mossad.
Mr. Poss called me this morning to tell me that he and the sales manager and his team met. They notified the Stanley Steemer PR firm about the problem. He told me that he didn’t really hear any type of serious reflection in their response but he also told them they would alter the ad themselves for this market.
Now I don’t know how many Jews have seen this ad and just blew it off as more indifference from advertisers to the sensitivity of the holiday. It appears that no one had said a damn thing, from anywhere in the country, except me about this indiscretion. I really don’t get that; but it is what it is.
Mr. Poss said he expects Stanley Steemer to either pull the ad entirely…or do it correctly. He told me he would call me as soon as he knew which direction they had planned to take.
Of course, there may have been others that complained to Stanley Steemer…and got nowhere. I was lucky to have a real mensch in the NBC GM to have my back on this.
I am shocked. One person speaking up. And things can change. Imagine if we all did this in our everyday lives. Normally, we all feel small and insignificant in how things are presented to us in the media. We don’t feel we have a voice that will be listened to. 330 million people residing in the U.S.A and one old Jew in Milwaukee may have had an impact on something important. This floors me. Of course, if the general manager of the NBC station had not taken my criticism to heart, the change would probably have never occurred.
What country can you think of that one person can make a difference? In all this turmoil of Covid and the presidential election, one voice mattered. I’ve never been so proud to be an American citizen. This is outstanding.
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