Hateful message no joking matter
It was supposed to be a prank. Stupid, yes, but only a prank.
The joke, as you are about to see, backfired badly.
He was a graphic artist working in the North Fayette office of Advo, the nation's largest direct mail marketing company. His job: to help produce the packets of advertisements that regularly clog your mailbox.
A colleague was completing work on a shopping flier for the discount superstore Party City's Hanukkah sale. He waited until the co-worker momentarily left his desk, then changed the ad's text.
Any snickering over the gag he pulled probably ceased last week when the flier turned up in Party City stores and residential mailboxes in suburban Dallas. Across the top of the advertisement, in large, bold, virtually impossible-to-overlook letters was the following:
"CC HATES THE JEWS."
This obviously was not the message Party City wanted to convey to attract customers to its Hanukkah sale. This obviously was not the message Advo wanted to convey to win, or keep, clients.
"We feel terrible, mortified and regretful," Advo spokeswoman Mary Lou Dlugolenski said.
Thousands of the fliers were printed, although Dlugolenski is uncertain how many went to consumers. When the anti-Semitic message finally was spotted by a Party City store manager, Advo pulled the flier from its mailings.
As might be expected, Party City removed all the copies delivered to its stores.
A mistake of this magnitude might be more understandable had it been made by some two-bit marketing concern. But Advo is the U.S. Postal Service's single largest customer; its clients include Wal-Mart, McDonald's and Sears.
So it's understandable why the folks at the Anti-Defamation League are wondering just how this could have happened.
"It is inconceivable that no one at any of the companies involved caught the slur before it went into print," ADL spokeswoman Bettysue Feuer said. "A Hanukkah ad that includes the message 'hates the Jews?' Where's the oversight?"
According to Dlugolenski, the victim of the prank had already signed off on the ad and thus didn't check it when he returned to his desk. She was unable to say why the incendiary language was never noticed during Advo's internal proofing process.
"We are doing a very extensive review to determine how we could have missed this," she said.
Dlugolenski said Party City officials have been "understandably outraged," but have not canceled their contract. The people at Party City declined to comment. They probably were too busy making sure all of the anti-Semitic fliers were out of their stores.
The local prankster, whom Dlugolenski would not identify, "feels very remorseful about this. ... He knows he used very poor judgment." He won't use it again at Advo. The company fired him.
Advo should think twice before filling that position. Instead of hiring another graphic artist, the company should fill a more pressing need and bolster its proofreading staff.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Would one big move kill Pirates’ future?
- Pirates inquire about Red Sox LHP Lester
- Steelers offensive linemen looking to build on strong 2013 finish
- GNC revenue, sales drop, but vitamin retailer says plan in place
- 3 injured in crash near zoo entrance in Highland Park
- Penn Township man seeking gun permit accused of bringing heroin to courthouse
- 3 men to stand trial over runaway Latrobe foster children
- Connellsville roundup: Mill Run leads series 2-0
- Heyl: This dress is a steal
- Attorney had broad range of private, public clients
- Peduto offers ray of light to understaffed Pittsburgh building bureau