The Tel Aviv Municipality has already understood the gimmick. Time after time, advertisements are published on billboards with blatantly sexual overtones with full knowledge that ultra-Orthodox leaders will kick up a storm demanding that a more modest image be used. Thus, the brand receives double the media coverage, while the city is perceived as capitulating to religious pressure.
City Councilman Rabbi Naftali Lubert, one of the prominent activists in recent years for making billboards more modest, is the one who decided to make a change.
Bar Refaeli in her underwear for an ad (Photo: Yariv Fein and Guy Kushi)
Lubert recently contacted Menachem Leibe, the director-general of the Tel Aviv Municipality, with a petition that any such billboard receive authorization from the city's spokesperson prior to being published. The stated objected is to prevent the publication of billboards of a sexual nature that are only made more modest after the municipality contacts the advertising agency.
Just last month, the Tel Aviv Municipality had to ask the responsible ad agency to cover up model Bar Refaeli's bare body on advertisements published in the city. This immediately spread around the internet, giving double coverage to the brand being represented by the model.
"It is a very grave issue that cynically exploits the law and offends the sensibilities of the residents. This is not an issue of haredim, but one of damaging respect for women," said Lubert.
The city was quick to take action. Legal advisor Attorney Uzi Salman sent a letter to the advertising agencies saying from here forth no billboards would go up without prior authorization from the advisory council to the municipality