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‘Oy Veh!’ Indigo’s signage for Holocaust book causes Twitter fury

Front view of the Indigo bookstore at Bay and Bloor streets in Toronto, April 8, 2011.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Not exactly a "Heather's Pick" for public relations: A midtown Toronto Indigo bookstore displayed big volumes of The Holocaust Chronicles, a 768-page encyclopedic timeline of the Jewish experience during the Second World War.

But the trademark Indigo sign on the table advertising the books? "Oy Veh! Can't believe I read the whole thing."

The shocking signage was first tweeted by journalist Marni Soupcoff, with the observation, "'I'm not sure Indigo has struck quite the right tone here."

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A huge understatement, I'd say, with Indigo's cultural insensitivity underlined by the fact that the company misspelled oy vey.

What started out as a that-can't-be-real moment became one that asked, who would ever think that would be an appropriate decision? And it ends in pure stupefaction.

The Twitter uproar was fast and furious, striking some deep chords with some Jewish Indigo followers:

‏@redlianak: "think there's a fine line between kitsch and belittling a topic. The ignorance is darkly funny though."

@tamara_hecht The other thing that bugs me about antisemitic jokes is I can't argue against them. "You're just offended bc you're Jewish."

For their part, @chaptersindigo did respond immediately to the complaints, and late into last night. I would not have wanted to be that social-media editor, endlessly typing:

An e-mail to The Globe from Alex Thompson, public-relations manager for Indigo, struck much the same tone:

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"We are currently looking into how this situation arose, as this certainly does not reflect the values of our brand. The sign was removed as soon as it was brought to our attention. Best wishes."

If it's any consolation, Indigo, you're not the first to have a full-on advertising fail: One look through these amazing and tragic "advertising fails" might help you sleep at night. Might I suggest Starbuck's poor choice in sliding door, or this unfortunate pairing of magazine ads?

But the difference, of course, is that these hilarious ad flops are seemingly unintentional, while the Indigo error, unless it was a cruel joke by an angry employee, must have needed some level of approval for the sign to be created.

Better still, an explanation – and a flat-out apology – might be a good place to start.

Follow me on twitter: @amberlym

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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