Bell Canada’s Punk Rock Mistake

Sex Pistols are reuniting for a one-off on 11/8, just in time to ride the tide of the latest public controversy they’ve managed to set off. Bell Canada tried to appeal to Canadian youth with an edgy archival image incorporating some Pistols paraphernalia, and wound up offending Holocaust survivors all over the country.

Via Reuters:

Canada’s biggest phone company has apologized after a punk-rock reference to the Holocaust appeared on billboard advertisements for its cell phones.

The ads for Bell Canada’s (BCE.TO) Solo discount service showed a young woman decked out in flashy punk rock attire, with a button that reads “Belsen was a gas” — the controversial title of a song by the Sex Pistols, and a reference to Nazi Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“It was inadvertent,” Bell Canada spokesman Mark Langton said on Friday, noting that the dozen ads were taken down as soon as the company realized its mistake. “Obviously, we would never depict such an offensive slogan in our advertising.”

He said Bell officials approved the ads after examining sample images that were smaller than the final billboards. The button inscription could only be read when the ads were blown up to their full size, he said.

Yikes. Advertising execs overlook small details like that all the time when choosing to invoke rock cred. Like how’s about when Pepsi used the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” in their campaign from 2003? Great idea — the cola’s brown ‘n’ sweet, just like the song’s title, right? Except, according to AllMusicGuide, Jagger wrote the tune about “a pastiche of a number of taboo subjects, including interracial sex, cunnilingus, slave rape, and less distinctly, sadomasochism, lost virginity, and heroin use.” Any other similarly unfortunate rock-related slogans come to mind?