Supermarket chain’s ad spoof on Dubai hit set to go viral

New ad parodies surveillance footage of the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh killing in Dubai, with the tag line “We offer killer prices.”

March 11, 2010 23:21
3 minute read.
Actors mimic surveillance footage released by Duba

supermarket ad mabhouh hit 311. (photo credit: AP)


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“Everything’s going as planned. The commercial hasn’t even aired yet and already everybody’s talking about it,” said Sefi Shaked, a partner in Inbar Merhav Shaked advertising agency.

Shaked’s company just finished filming a new commercial for discount supermarket chain Almost Free Warehouses Ltd. (Mahsanei Kimat Hinam) on Wednesday. The ad parodies the surveillance footage of the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh assassination in Dubai. Its tag line is “We offer killer prices.”

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The Israeli government has remained ambivalent about its involvement in the al-Mabhouh killing, but many around the world believe the assassination was the work of the Mossad. In Israel the cloak-and-dagger methods portrayed in the videos released by the Dubai police, allegedly capturing the agents in the act, have raised some amusement. After making “appearances” in prime-time satire shows, the characters are now being used in a marketing campaign to sell low-cost groceries for Pessah.

The ad itself will begin airing next week and will show footage of people dressed up as secret agents, wearing the costumes used by the Dubai team, walking around the store and picking out products that are on sale. One is a man wearing a tennis player outfit, another is a man in a business suit wearing a fake mustache and the third is a woman with a wide brimmed hat. Whenever one of the characters picks up an item, a red circle appears around it, parodying the circles picking out the agents in the surveillance videos.

Shot at the chain’s Yarkonim branch, much of the filming was done on actual handheld surveillance cameras and the angles and quality of the video closely resemble the ones released by the Dubai Police.

“Other supermarket chains are spending millions on flashy advertising campaigns for the holiday. Almost Free Warehouses doesn’t have that kinds of budget. We had to come up with a great idea to outdo the enemy,” said Shaked. “The idea to film the ad this way came out of our creative department. We liked the idea of filming with surveillance cameras and everything came together well, so we ran with it.”

News of the new ad has spread quickly. The commercial is expected to go viral on the Internet within seconds of its first airing on television and garner millions of views on YouTube and references in blogs.

Shaked said that the fact that he had spoken to tens of journalists meant that the ad was already making a buzz.

“So far people have been reacting favorably to it here in Israel. They look at it with humor,” said Shaked. “I know that elsewhere people may ask whether it’s right to use a murder as an advertising gimmick, but as far as I’m concerned, I don’t see it as a murder. The target was a despicable terrorist and a murderer. The only people I feel for are the families of his victims.”

Shaked said that he felt certain Israelis would appreciate the commercial and remember it when they were choosing where to shop.

“We didn’t think about it before, but there is also an element of national pride. As an Israeli I am proud. It’s a failure of the Israeli hasbara if the world sees Al-Mabhouh as some sort of freedom fighter.”

Marketing and advertising manager of Almost Free Warehouses, Yossi Maimon, said he only hoped people would remember the discounts.

“We aren’t going into the whole story of whether Israel actually did it or not. We aren’t interested in politics. It’s all done with humor.”

“Last year we also ran an original campaign with Inbar Merhav Shaked, in which we brought in real unemployed people to talk about the cheap prices,” said Maimon. “We don’t want to spend the money that the big national chains do on ads, so we have to be more creative. The Dubai story is timely and current and it’s already being spoofed on television. So we ran with it.”

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