another little promotional spot along the lines of “Graham iiiisss FORD!” or “Home of the best dawggone deals .. Jack Maxton Chevrolet” … (?)

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2006

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.”

The dealership was a little surprised by the hesitation to run the ad, Masterson said, although he noted, “According to the people who have heard it, it is the most controversial commercial they’ve heard in the last 15 years.”

Calling the commercial aggressive, Masterson said, “This is one where we feel we’re taking a bull’s-eye on terrorists. After all the nonsense that the terrorists put the public through, they’re fair game.”

The president of the Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, doesn’t think terrorism is to be taken lightly.

Asma Mobin-Uddin said she is concerned the ad’s tone and imagery are “mocking and disrespectful to many different areas. One is Islamic faith and Islamic culture.”

“Using that as a promotional pitch when so many are dying from the criminal activity of suicide bombers, that’s not funny,” Mobin-Uddin said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate when it causes real pain. It exploits or promotes misunderstanding in terms already misunderstood or misused. That type of ad does nothing but promote discord in a very difficult time. The timing is just amazing. Maybe that’s part of the shock value.”

When Dennis previewed the commercial Wednesday for radio executives, Masterson said, “everybody in the room thought it was very funny, extremely aggressive.”

Yet executives did have some concerns.

“We talk about the pope, fatwa, terrorists. You hear one of these words, and their minds froze on it,” he said.

Nonetheless, he said, the company plans few changes.

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