Hitler selling "New Form" jeans in Palermo
(Source: Corriere della Sera)
Considering Adolf Hitler’s global name recognition – after all, politicians from Barack Obama to Hugo Chavez are compared to the Austrian-born Fuehrer every day – it’s surprising more companies haven’t discovered him as an advertising draw. Well, it’s not really that surprising, considering the issues of taste and basic common sense, let alone laws banishing his image and symbols from the public arena in many countries. But it’s springtime for Hitler again, because now the island of Sicily is testing the Fuehrer’s viability as a poster child – for jeans!
Last week in Palermo, the Sicilian “New Form” fashion chain store hung a series of new 18-foot posters displaying the dictator wearing a pink uniform and a heart-shaped symbol on the armband in place of the Fuehrer’s trademark Swastika. The slogan? “Change your style. Don’t follow your leader.”
As cited in the Corriere della sierra over the weekend, Daniele Manno, who is the head of Zerocento, the advertising agency responsible for the posters, explained his new campaign by saying “we have ridiculed Hitler in a way that invites young people to create their own style and not to be influenced by their peers.” The campaign, which began weekend before last and has been gaining notoriety ever since, is aimed at twenty-somethings, who have already finished school and supposedly know all about Hitler and his policies. Manno points out that his agency is an equal opportunity offense-giver, since it intends to unveil a set of new posters bearing the face of Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
But not everyone on this island, which endured both Mussolini’s Fascists and Hitler’s Nazis, is laughing. Rosario Filoramo, a city councillor for the centre-Left Democratic Party, has lodged a formal protest with Palermo’s mayor, Diego Cammarata: "The use of an image of a person responsible for the worst chapters of the last century is offensive to our country's constitutional principles and to the sensitivities of citizens," he said. Italy’s partisan movement has protested, and ordinary citizens have appealed directly to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to have the offending posters removed – all to no avail.
(Source: Giornale di Sicilia)
Now I’ve been to Sicily, and the day I stepped off the plane in Palermo I couldn’t help noticing the Hitler beer and the Mussolini T-shirts they sell in the town’s many tourist traps. I also discovered pretty quickly that there were two kinds of shops: the ones where the owners had icons of the Virgin Mary and/or Italian saint Padre Pio in a place of honor on a shelf above the counter, and those with a lovingly polished bust of Il Duce himself. (Many Sicilians recall how Mussolini suppressed the Mafia during his long rule, for which they remain forever grateful to the dictator's memory.)
But that’s Sicily for you. Somehow I doubt the posters – and the jeans – will catch on in many places in the USA. Until they do, I’m sticking to Levis. You might want to do the same.