Vodka ad boasting 'Christmas quality' at 'Hanukkah pricing' to come down amid complaints
A spokesman for Wodka Vodka says this ad on New York's West Side Highway will come down Wednesday.
November 22nd, 2011
03:54 PM ET

Vodka ad boasting 'Christmas quality' at 'Hanukkah pricing' to come down amid complaints

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - A vodka brand that claimed to represent "Christmas quality" at "Hanukkah pricing" will take down a New York billboard carrying the controversial slogan in response to complaints that the sign is offensive and promotes negative stereotypes.

The sales pitch for Wódka vodka also features the image of two dogs, one wearing a Santa hat, the other wearing a yarmulke, prompting outcry from the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism.

"In a crude and offensive way of trying to make a point that their vodka is high quality and inexpensive, the billboards evoke a Jewish holiday to imply something that is cheap and of lesser value when compared to the higher value of a Christian holiday," said Ron Meier, the ADL's New York Regional Director, in a press release.

"Particularly with the long history of anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money, with the age-old notion that Jews are cheap, to use the Jewish holiday in dealing with issues of money is clearly insensitive and inappropriate," the release said.

Negative feedback from consumers, not the ADL, led to Tuesday"s decision to take down the billboard, which appears in a prominent location on New York City's West Side Highway, said Brian Gordon, the creative lead on the campaign, who is Jewish. The sign will come down Wednesday.

"It's important that people understand where we're coming from because we never intended to offend people," Godon said in a phone interview. "But if we’re actually offending or upsetting people that’s not in the spirit of our marketing so we're taking it down."

The vodka company is known for towing the line between campy and controversial in its marketing, with past ads boasting "Hamptons Quality. Newark Pricing" and "Escort Quality. Hooker Pricing."

At least two complaints to the ADL referenced  Wódka's past marketing slogans and charged that the ads played off the stereotype that "Jews are cheap or will cheat you," according to an e-mail the ADL shared with CNN.

But people who saw the ad that way missed the point, Gordon said.

The point of the campaign was to liken the brand to Hanukkah as the "understated" holiday of the season, he said. While other premium vodkas come in fancy packaging, frosted bottles and incorporate pomp and circumstance in their marketing, Wódka vodka offers equal quality "with less pomp and circumstance," Gordon said.

"As a Jew growing up, the only thing we could say was we had 8 nights and Christmas had only day, so we had 8 days for the price of one," Gordon explained by phone from Los Angeles, where he said he was attending his niece's bat mitzvah.

"With our brand, our message is you can get more for less, 8 nights versus 1, and we don't need to wrap ourselves in fancy packaging," he said. "Other brands have fancy marketing but we don't need that because that's not an indication of great quality."

- egrinberg

Filed under: Christianity • Christmas • Judaism

soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. *** DUDE ***

    Oh brother, u have lost ur mind (and heart)

    November 25, 2011 at 3:44 am |
  2. Iqbal Khan


    November 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  3. Fed_Up

    The only thing worse than the bigotry of the ad is the stupidity of those defending it through screeching about "free speech" & "thin skin". Yes, the company is free to make such an ad. & decent people are free to be offended by the gross bigotry of it. No LAW ENFORCEMENT was used to make them take down the ad – just complaints from people know that unchecked hatred leads to tragedy.

    November 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  4. dixiejon

    so it is true. whine about everything. they won't roll over and let me steal their land and kill their children... waaah...somebody said i'm tight with money. waaa love me though you are dirt to me waaaaa

    November 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  5. Joe citizen abroad

    What'll they replace it with? "Drink like Santa, spend like Scrooge"?

    November 23, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  6. Eddie

    Oh please, let's not offend anyone. This is the reason I abandoned the Democratic party. Political Correctness is a mirror-image of Newspeak. I urinate on each of them.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Sam

      You are a fool!

      November 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Ed

      Urine trouble!

      November 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • hippypoet

      please eddie.... we are primates... lets throw poo instead!

      November 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  7. Grant

    After drinking a bottle of that vodka, the ad is HILARIOUS!

    November 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  8. Grant

    After drinking a bottle of the Vodka, the ad seems HILARIOUS!

    November 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  9. Snow

    I seriously want to know how many "True Christians" actually believe that Christ was born on Dec 25th..

    Really, I do!

    November 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • GodPot

      The answer is 0. It's a trick question. There are no true Christians.

      November 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  10. danny

    freedom of speech........gone. soon it will be illiegal to say merry christmas...what a world

    November 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Get This


      Oh, come off it, lad. You sound like a pouty child with a persecution complex. It will not ever be "illegal" to say, "Merry Christmas". It perhaps will be regarded more like a quaint anachronism of past beliefs. Today is Wednesday... named for the Norse god, Woden. Worshiping Woden has never been made illegal... these beliefs just fade away... as will yours.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • GodPot

      If by "illegal" you mean smirked at behind your back as a person still desprately clinging to their superiority complex by celebrating a converted pagan holiday so that you can believe the whole universe was created for you, then taken away from you, then bought back by the death of a lone 1st century carpenter, then yes, it will be illegal.

      November 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Josh

      Danny – if you actually read the first amendment and were smart enough to understand, you would then get why this ad is actually not Ok. However, you probably never read the first amendment and you are certainly not smart enough to understand. Therefore, please go back to your meth and Xbox and let the rest of the world continue. thx.

      November 29, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  11. Common Usual Normal Ted

    You see here Nucky! What say you just shut your claptrap you see?

    November 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Common Usual Normal Ted

    You see here Nucky! Why don't you just go ahead and shut your claptrap now, you hear.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Maggi

    It's toe the line not tow the line.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  14. Robert

    I thought the ad was hilarious! We've become so overly sensitive and politically correct that we've lost our sense of humor.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  15. Reality

    Much to do about nothing!!

    To wit:

    Christmas, the embellished story of the birth of a simple, preacher man named Jesus.

    As per most contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary and Joseph although some say Jesus was a m-amzer, the result of a pre-mar-tal relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.


    Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are familiar with and there were no pretty wingie thingies singing from on high, no slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to Egypt.

    See also: http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=007_Of_Davids_Lineage

    Conclusion: the holyday of Christmas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.


    "Kwanzaa, which will be celebrated for the 44th time in 2009, was established by Dr. Maulana Karenga. The seven-day festival (December 26 – January 1) is secular, not religious, and aims to strengthen African cultural ident-ity and community values while providing a spiritual alternative to the commercialism of Christmas."

    Chanukah (Hanukkah)

    "Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most joyous times of the Jewish year. The reason for the celebration is twofold (both dating back to c. 165 BCE): the miraculous military victory of the small, ill-equipped Jewish army over the ruling Greek Syrians, who had banned the Jewish religion and desecrated the Temple; and the miracle of the small cruse of consecrated oil, which burned for eight days in the Temple's menorah instead of just one."

    "Originally a minor holiday, it has become more lavishly celebrated as a result of its proximity to Christmas."
    Some candles burn for weeks so the menorah "miracle" is hardly miraculous.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  16. derp

    I was hoping for Pagan Winter Solstice quality at Kwanzaa pricing. I guess I got my rituals mixed up.

    November 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • heresy

      or Yule

      November 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. WVLady63

    Can skin get any thinner????? GET OVER YOURSELVES, THIS IS AMERICA, WE HAVE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH! If you are offended, don't look at it! STOP TRYING TO CONTROL WHAT THE REST OF US READS OR SEES!!!! I am OFFENDED by your statement about the sign!!!!!

    November 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  18. wendy

    I find it quite sad that the intelligent humour/point of the ad is lost on the masses. Idiocracy, here we come...

    November 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • heresy

      yes we are doomed.

      November 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Snow

      The kind of ads they want are the stupid Target's Red sweats wearing woman kind of ones.. everytime I see that ad, I feel like punching her in face..

      November 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Snarf

      Just remember you can eat your pets if you ever run out of regular food.

      November 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Joker

      "Just remember you can eat your pets if you ever run out of regular food."

      Another pee brain comment from the peanut gallery, you tilted your head didn't you! lol

      November 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, Snarf, if zombies were depending on your brain as a food source, we'd never need to worry about them surviving.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Snarf

      Gee whiz! You fellas sure know how to write a zinger! Wow! I guess I"ve been told what's what. Gosh!

      November 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you have to ask directions to the ground when you jump out of the window, Snarf?

      November 24, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  19. larrydavidsandwhich

    I've found through my research that the Ashkenazi Jews are extremely cheap and Sephardic Jews are spendthrifts.

    November 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  20. Enoch

    Why don't fools leave Christmas to Christians, and wait for April Fool?

    "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works; There is none that doeth good." [Psalm 14:1 ]

    November 23, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • HellBent

      Why don't christians realize that they co-opted christmas from others and that most of the rituals around the holiday are pagan

      Talk about fools...

      'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain' – The Wizard of Oz

      November 23, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      "They are corrupt, they have done abominable works; There is none that doeth good."

      Go tell that to Bill Gates. Perhaps you thinking that striving to end world hunger is an abomination.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Rick

      Quoting Bronze Age comic books to those who don't accept the authority of such works is only soooo effective, Enoch

      November 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • PonderItYourself


      Until you quote Bill Gates saying "there is no God" you presumed lying and should not be takin seriously.

      November 26, 2011 at 11:47 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.