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The line between tacky and brilliant is so...clearly defined

by michael April 03 2008
Municipal news

Let's roleplay!

Imagine that you were an Israeli toy company tasked with marketing in Israel a special commemorative Western Wall puzzle made by a German company. Already far from an enviable task in a country where nobody will buy a Volkswagen, yes, but bear with us. How would you attract attention to your product? Commercials? Billboards? Newspaper ads? Direct mail campaigns? Stuffing individual pieces of the puzzle into the revered landmark it depicts?

If you answered "yes" to that last one, the company Sachek-Na may have an opening for you. It's the sort of strategy that's right up their alley.

In honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary, German company Ravensberger, making high-end puzzles and other toys, has manufactured a 1,000 piece puzzle depicting the Western Wall.

The puzzle was distributed world wide, and Israeli company Sacheck-Na ("please play") decided to market it in Israel utilizing a highly controversial marketing ploy.

The company placed 400 puzzle pieces inside the Western Wall, wrapped within blue notes emblazoned with the company’s logo and containing various wishes such as “I want a united Jerusalem", or "I want peace".

The company urged Israelis to go on a treasure hunt to retrieve the missing puzzle pieces. Whoever finds the missing pieces will have their very own puzzle sent to their home.

Even though Judaism’s holiest site is involved, Sachek-Na has no qualms about utilizing it for commercial ends.

"This marketing campaign represents an effort to launch a puzzle depicting Israel at its finest across the globe, and I think that there is nothing more appropriate and beautiful than that," said Moshe Kloghaft, the company’s media advisor.

The standards for beauty have fallen so low. It's a good thing Ravensburger didn't decide to make a puzzle of the Dome of the Rock, or Sachek-Na would have sparked another intifada.

The bizarre thing about this campaign, of course, is that it encourages puzzleheads to paw through the very personal notes to God jammed by the thousands into the cracks of the Western Wall to look for the hidden pieces. Hopefully at least one piece was wrapped in the wish "I want major religious sites to remain uncolored by the forces of marketing." Jerusalemite envisions a dark future wherein the solemn devotional gravity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is brought to you by the crisp, refreshing taste of Coca-Cola.

Kloghaft went on to defend his company's decision in a slightly unusual manner: by appealing to the example of Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Besides, placing notes in the Western Wall does little to diminish the immense amount of dignity and respect that we hold for this site... When celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio visit Israel and take photos at the Western Wall, doesn’t this also entail making commercial use of the site?"

Perhaps, but then, if every time one of his movies came out 400 Leonardo DiCaprios were hidden in the cracks of the Western Wall, they'd have to drastically expand the women's section. Also, the people of Israel owe DiCaprio a great debt for taking the insufferable if physically flawless Bar Refaeli off our hands. No, really, Leo. Thank you.

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