Vodka Billboard on West Side Highway Blasted as Anti-Semitic

The company has promised to take down the ad

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An ad agency is facing backlash over a controversial billboard over the West Side Highway. Some say the sign reinforces stereotypes. The agency says it's just good fun. Roseanne Colletti reports.

    A billboard over the West Side Highway advertising vodka at "Hanukkah pricing" has been taken down after NBC New York's inquiries to the company about the messaging.

    The billboard showed a Chihuahua dog in a Santa hat and a Russian wolfhound dog in a yarmulke. "Christmas Quality, Hanukkah Pricing," the text read.

    An NBC New York viewer emailed the newsroom about the Wodka brand vodka ad, saying she was "appalled" and that she wanted what she said was an anti-Semitic ad removed.

    The Anti-Defamation League weighed in on its website Tuesday after hearing about the billboard, labeling it "cruel and offensive," and said it reinforced anti-Semitic stereotypes.

    Representatives of Wodka Vodka told NBC New York the billboards were made specifically for New York City. "We were celebrating Hanukkah as a great value," said James Dale, explaining the holiday has eight days while Christmas has one.

    Shu D-Jong, a second company representative who met with NBC New York in the Midtown offices of its distributor, said some of the company partners are Jewish and that the ad is "consistent with previous marketing."

    Earlier billboards touted similarly pointed messages, reading, "Hamptons Quality, Newark Pricing," "Movie Star Quality, Reality Star Pricing," and "Escort Quality, Hooker Pricing."

    The two company representatives insisted there has been no backlash until now.

    But some New Yorkers pointed out that the company has never made religious comparisons before.

    "That's no way to sell vodka in New York," said Joel Liberson.

    Dale told NBC New York, "We don't want to offend anyone," and added that the company was in the process of taking down the controversial vodka ads.