Boeing under fire over ‘tasteless’ ad

American airline giant Boeing has been forced to apologise for a helicopter advert showing soldiers landing on the roof of a mosque.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  October 16, 2005

American airline giant Boeing has been forced to apologise for a helicopter advert showing soldiers landing on the roof of a mosque. The advert for the Osprey helicopter shows five soldiers being lowered by rope on to the mosque, which has a burning car next to it. The accompanying slogan reads: “It descends from the heavens. Ironically, it unleashes hell.” An Arab advertising agency director, who asked not to be named, said: “It is very controversial. Using images of the Middle East like this was bound to upset people.” The ad was published in The National Journal, a Washington-based government and policy magazine. The ad has been labeled as tasteless, offending Muslims at a sensitive time, following extensive US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and reinforcing the unwanted link between the Middle East and terrorism. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded an apology, arguing that it gives the impression that “the insertion points never thought possible” mentioned in the copy are Islamic places of worship. Boeing said it had had a change of heart about the advertisement and had requested it be replaced prior to publication. But a mix-up meant The National Journal ran the original version. Sadri Barrage, managing director of Dubai-based Headline PR and chairman of the Middle East PR Association, said: “I don’t know what the communications people at Boeing were thinking. The Middle East is a growing economy so this is not going to help their business here. You can build a reputation over years and then see it destroyed in seconds.”

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