Stations say ‘jihad’ car ads go too far

Some Columbus radio stations have rejected as insensitive an advertisement for a car dealership that invokes Islamic references. The general manager of the dealership, though, says the promotions – which he called “tongue-in-cheek” – will air on some stations beginning next week.

In the spot, Keith Dennis of Dennis Mitsubishi talks about “launching a jihad on the automotive market.” Sales representatives “will be wearing burqas all weekend long,” the ad says. One of the vehicles on sale “can comfortably seat up to 12 jihadists in the back.”

“Our prices are lower than the evildoers’ every day. Just ask the pope!” the ad says. “Friday is fatwa Friday, with free rubber swords for the kiddies.”

Jeff Wilson, general manager of Radio One stations WCKX (107.5 FM), WJYD (106.3 FM) and WXMG (98.9 FM), doesn’t intend to air the spot. “We won’t play that,” Wilson said. “With no disrespect to their creativity or their desire to build business, everything we’re about is promoting the values of diversity. To air things of that sort would go against our mission statement.”

Representatives of WSNY (94.7 FM), WBNS (97.1 FM), WWCD (101.1 FM), WJZA/WJZK (103.5/104.3 FM), and WODB (107.9 FM) also said they won’t air the ad.

But Aaron Masterson, general manager of Dennis Auto Point, which writes and produces its own commercials, promised that the commercial will air. “It starts next Friday morning,” Masterson said. “As far as I can see, the top 10 stations – minimum – in the market. We made it very clear we wanted market saturation to get the point across.”

Columbus Dispatch, 23 September 2006