The Problem With Israel's Controversial Gay Pride Adverts

Last week passersby in London were stunned when they were greeted with adverts reading "Imagine London without gays..."

There was an uproar on social media as people demanded to know who was responsible for the adverts and some wondered whether it was an attack campaign. However unlikely in this day and age that such creative would be approved, the adverts stirred people's feelings.

The following day it was revealed that the campaign was launched to attract visitors to this year's Tel Aviv gay pride.


The campaign certainly had an impact, but the problem behind its ill-thought through collateral was that to a passerby on day one, the adverts were asking individuals to imagine a city devoid of gay people. Without the punchline, people were allowed to genuinely ponder the question -- and we all know there are still plenty of people who would happily see the vision come true.

I spoke personally to the Israel Tourism Ministry in London about the campaign and they acknowledged that their messaging "was controversial and lacked information."

The messaging was indeed controversial. My travel company works closely with suppliers in Israel and with the tourism ministry but it's well known that the country is seen as controversial by many.


Indeed, the campaign is believed to have cost around $2.9 million (11 million shekels) and many in Israel have called on people to boycott the parade citing claims that the state only spends 1.5 million shekels a year supporting LGBT organizations.

I visited Israel in the past as a journalist. It's a beautiful country -- there is no doubt about that. But it is still a controversial country and Israel knows full well that's how it is perceived on the world stage. To say otherwise is naive and those behind the creative would have set out knowing this. The fact that Israel has had to mute the campaign and bring forward the second part of it only serves to show that the country remains at the forefront of controversy and that's not likely to end anytime soon.