New anti-racist campaign kicks off


It is not easy to stand out in a city plastered with advertisements. But a billboard depicting two Nazis being used as poles for a washing line, as they do the Nazi salute, is an instant attention-grabber. If nothing else then the motto "Be kind to your local Nazi" makes people come closer to find out what it's all about. Daniela Lazarova explains:

What it's about is a an anti-racist campaign that has a better chance of getting through to people. Never before - at least not in this country - have right wing extremists been depicted in this light. And, certainly it is hard to believe that the clumsy skinheads who get thrown out of the pub for knocking glasses off the shelf with their stiff Nazi salute and who get their raised right hands stuck in the elevator doors are advocates of a regime which killed millions of people.

So is there not a danger in presenting right wing extremists as being merely ridiculous when they are in fact a potential threat? Jiri Mikes, Director of the Association of Advertising Agencies thinks not:

"I saw Charlie Chaplin playing Hitler and the film carried a strong message against Nazism, despite the fact that it was humorous. In my opinion, campaigns which are based on humor have an edge over others and we Czechs like humor...."

Although not everyone may be laughing, Creative Shop Stereo Communications, the advertising agency behind the campaign, insists that this is the way to go, since the young generation -at which this campaign is chiefly targeted - pays no attention whatsoever to lecturing and moral appeals. Although it evoked mixed reactions, the EU funded campaign was rated as being exceptionally successful in Great Britain and Germany. Most people from the Czech advertising world give it top marks and expect to be effective here as well , though they admit that for the older generation -especially people who lost family and friends in the war - it may be offensive to see pictures of Nazis saluting in whatever context. For the present, the only public reaction to it has come from the extreme right Republican Party which has filed charges of "scare-mongering" against the campaign's organizers.