[News] Major ad firm Outfront Media censors "free Ahed Tamimi" billboard - calling it an attack ad

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 23 11:12:22 EST 2018


  Major ad firm Outfront Media censors "free Ahed Tamimi" billboard

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 22 
January 2018


Outfront Media’s staff created this design for a billboard calling for 
the release of Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi, but it was rejected by 
corporate executives who claimed it was an “attack ad.”

A major US ad firm is refusing to put up a billboard calling for the 
release of Ahed Tamimi 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ahed-tamimi>, the Palestinian girl 
who is in indefinite military custody 
for challenging Israeli occupation forces on her family’s property.

Ahed, 16, was detained in a night raid 
in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh a month ago, after video 
circulated showing her and a cousin slapping and shoving two heavily 
armed Israeli soldiers following an incident in which a soldier had shot 
in the head 
and seriously injured their 15-year-old cousin.

Outraged by a perceived insult to their occupation forces, Israeli 
leaders are vowing revenge against the Tamimi family and are subjecting 
Ahed, her mother Nariman and cousin Nour to military trials in kangaroo 
with a near-100 percent conviction rate 

“Nothing that Ahed Tamimi has done can justify the continuing detention 
of a 16-year-old girl,” Amnesty International stated 
last week. “The Israeli authorities must release her without delay.”

    Billboard design

Ahed’s persecution by Israel has rallied supporters of Palestinian 
rights all over the world, and a businessperson in Chicago’s western 
suburbs wanted to help draw attention to her case with a billboard at a 
busy intersection.

He contacted the ad firm Outfront Media <https://www.outfrontmedia.com>, 
one of the largest in the country, that used to be known as CBS Outdoor.

The staff in the firm’s Chicago office were very helpful, according to 
the businessperson who did not want to be named due to concern about 
harassment his family could face for his speaking out about Palestinian 

They negotiated a price: $5,000 plus a $350 design fee to place a large 
ad at the intersection of Naper Boulevard and Ogden Avenue in the town 
of Naperville.

The design staff helped come up with an ad that would be printed on a 
huge vinyl sheet and displayed to an estimated 139,000 passing drivers 
during the ad’s four-week run.

Outfront’s staff said the ad might even stay up longer for free if no 
one else bought the billboard right away.

But the trouble began after the Chicago office submitted the design for 
approval to headquarters in New York: the ad was immediately rejected. 
So Outfront’s designers in Chicago created a second, toned-down version, 
which the client approved – the company’s mock-up can be seen above.

However that design was also overruled by the New York office.

    “Attack ad”

In a 19 January email seen by The Electronic Intifada, Michael 
Gapastione, an account executive in Outfront Media’s Chicago office, 
wrote the businessperson telling him that the New York office “answered 
me back with second ad and said would NOT be approved.”

“I asked for clarification. Response was that this was an attack ad and 
won’t be approved,” Gapastione added. “I even asked if we just put FREE 
AHED with picture and she said NO.”

A request for comment has been sent to Outfront Media.

The businessperson told The Electronic Intifada that initially he had 
been informed by the Chicago office that Outfront accepts “political 
ads,” but he added that “the corporate office in New York rejected 

In fact, Outfront Media actively seeks to capture 
as much as it can of the billions of dollars spent on political 
advertising in the US.

    Defending anti-Trump billboard

In September, the company came under pressure to remove a billboard near 
the San Francisco Bay Bridge that called to “Impeach Trump” and showed a 
scowling image of the president.

The political group that paid for the ad said it was initially told 
by Outfront Media that the ad would come down due to “multiple 
complaints,” and slammed the company for “censorship.”

But Outfront Media told reporters this had been a “miscommunication” and 
the company confirmed 
<http://www.ktvu.com/news/impeach-trump-billboard-comes-down> that the 
ad would stay up for its scheduled run 

In the end, despite whatever pressure it faced, the firm was prepared to 
allow Trump critics to have their say.

But in Outfront Media’s view, supporting children’s rights now qualifies 
as an unacceptable “attack ad” – if those children are Palestinian.

Calling on Israel to respect their rights is beyond the pale for the 
multibillion dollar corporation – even though 20 members of Congress are 
concerned enough by Israel’s military detention, abuse and torture of 
Palestinian children that they are backing a bill to curtail it 

There are currently 350 Palestinian children in Israeli military custody 

“For $5,350, I could not even purchase my right to free speech granted 
by my First Amendment rights,” the disappointed businessperson quipped. 
“This is America, the land of the free and brave.”

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