CC AdWatch: Is Mazda Really Using JFK’s Assassination To Sell Its Blind Spot Monitoring System?

The accusation that the advertising industry lives and works in something of a bubble is not uncommon. It often seems to suffer from a larger than average blind spot, in its relentless search for novelty and need to break through the clutter. Or just self-aggrandizement. But this ad takes that to a whole new level.

CC’s Don Andreina just forwarded me a post at Mumbrella, an Australian marketing site, that received this Mazda print ad in its inbox. It’s from BBR Saatchi&Saatchi’s Israel offices. It’s a ‘genuine’ ad, inasmuch as its creators and provenance has been confirmed. Whether it actually gets used to any degree in print publications is as of yet unknown. Regardless, to even create and submit an ad like this seems remarkably tone deaf, and even shameful. Time to turn on your Blind Spot Monitoring System, BBR Saatchi&Saatchi.

The setting of the hand-drawn ad is all-too familiar: Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and JFK’s open Lincoln limo (not very accurately rendered) is just passing by. And up in the Texas School Book Depository a yellow light can be seen, in the spot where Lee Harvey Oswald was aiming his high-powered rifle at Kennedy’s head.

The yellow spot represents Mazda’s Blind Spot Monitoring System, which lights a yellow signal in the outside rear view mirror when it detects an unseen threat.  The tag line on the ad is “spot the threat in time”.

The Australian blogger, Dr Mumbo, has verified that Mazda is a client at this agency, and it’s been listed at, an archive for advertising copy, which gives credits and says that the ad was released in January, 2017 for use by Mazda in Israel. So it appears to be a genuine ad. And technically, it is.

But it may never be published; it’s just too hard to imagine Mazda being ok with that. So why does it exist? It’s almost surely a “scam ad”, which are created by the ad industry’s creative departments for one purpose only: to win ad industry awards, which are vital to the success of careers and agencies. It’s an issue that surfaced some years ago, and has been called out by Ad Age and clients alike for years as being detrimental to the industry and its clients. Yet it persists, as this ad makes most painfully clear. And one wonders: does Mazda even know it exists?

The irony of selling a Blind Spot Monitoring System with such a huge judgment blind spot is massively ironic. Unless of course that’s the intent too. In which case, this scam ad takes it to a whole new level. Hey, it is 2017.