Credit Union Expresses Regret for Anti-Semitic Advertisement
Boston, MA, February 15, 2006 ... In response to the advertisement for Peoples Choice Credit Union in the February 14th Portland Press Herald in Portland, Maine, featuring a stereotypical-looking Jew referenced as "The Fee Bandit," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed its disappointment that Peoples Choice Credit Union had dredged up images that evoke age-old classical anti-Semitic stereotypes.
ADL reached out to Peoples Choice Credit Union to encourage it to show corporate responsibility by taking swift action in response to the advertisement by withdrawing it and making clear to their clients and the public that Peoples Choice Credit Union will not tolerate derogatory or religiously insensitive content.
The company expressed remorse at offending the Jewish community and indicated that it had pulled the advertisement and would not run it again. The credit union also said it intends to speak directly with the Jewish community, both to express regret and to learn firsthand why this advertisement was particularly hurtful and insensitive.
"We appreciate the credit union's willingness to respond quickly and unequivocally to this incident," said Andrew Tarsy, ADL New England Regional Director. "It is our hope that healing and learning can now begin."
Headed with the word "WANTED," the advertisement included a picture of a stereotypical-looking Jew referenced as "The Fee Bandit". This character was described as "smil[ing] as he takes your money in ways big and small – late fees, over-balance fees, maintenance fees, just-because-he-can fees." In addition, the company's "No Gouging Guarantee" was printed on a six-pointed badge that resembled a Jewish Star of David.
ADL was immediately contacted by numerous members of the Maine Jewish community. Along with the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine (JCA), ADL co-authored a letter to the credit union expressing concern that the ad perpetuated dangerous and false stereotypes and myths about Jews.
ADL subsequently met with representatives of JCA, the credit union, the newspaper, the advertising agency that created the ad, and members of the southern Maine Jewish community.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.