TransLink, metro Vancouver’s transit authority, has decided it will not pull a $15,000 ad campaign for the Palestine Awareness Coalition despite complaints from Jewish groups over what they have deemed political advertising.
The ad, which is called “Disappearing Palestine,” displays four maps that show Palestinian territory shrinking over several decades. It says “5 million Palestinians are classified as refugees by the UN.”
It appeared Aug. 27 and appears in one downtown SkyTrain station and on 15 buses.
A representative from the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver told the Province that the group is considering suing Translink for accepting political advertising. A note on the Palestine Awareness Coalition’s website says the ads were produced by a coalition of seven local Vancouver-based organizations “who find the 65 year-long Israeli occupation of Palestine an international outrage and an ongoing punishment of the Palestinian people.”
Translink has declined to comment on the ad, but issued a news release stating that it was referred to the Canadian Advertising Standards office for review prior to placement. Translink also said it sought a third-party legal opinion about the ad with regard to the Canadian Charter.
“If Translink accepts advertising, it must not restrict content,” said the release. “Translink does not have the legal authority to deny ads as long as the ads comply with the Code of Canadian Advertising Standards, others laws such as the Human Rights Act and Translink’s advertising policy.”
Linda Bilben, partner and creative director at Reputations, a reputation management firm, said the ads are basically educational and normally would not provoke much attention. She added that the prospect of the lawsuit, meanwhile, is increasing the campaign’s overall impressions.
“The Jewish Federation has optimized the advertising campaign by coming out to the media, and now they are hitting a bunch of target audiences that they wouldn’t have hit [otherwise],” she said.
Alyn Edwards, a partner at Peak Communications, said: “That’s an amazing result for the people who placed the ad. They’ll never get such publicity. What I tell my clients is if you are going to draw negative attention that could be a good thing as long as you are in the right.”
The campaign wis set to run for four months.