Bell, Boeing Won’t Defend Mosque Ad

DALLAS Boeing Co., Bell Helicopter Textron and National Journal magazine have apologized for a print ad depicting U.S. troops attacking a mosque, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said today.

The ad, created by Interpublic Group’s TM Advertising in Irving, Texas, depicted a CV-22 Osprey aircraft delivering troops to the roof of a mosque. The headline read: “It descends from the heavens. Ironically it unleashes hell.”

After complaints from CAIR, Bell and Boeing, partners in developing the tilt-rotor aircraft undergoing testing for use by the U.S. military, issued separate apologies. TM referred calls to its client Bell.

“The CV-22 advertisement that appeared in the National Journal is clearly offensive, and did not proceed through the normal channels within Boeing before production,” said Mary Foerster, vice president of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Communications, in a statement.

“When the company became aware of the advertisement, we immediately requested that our partner’s agency withdraw and destroy all print proofs of the advertisement and replace it with one that was appropriate,” said Foerster. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to have the ad replaced, a clerical error at the National Journal resulted in its publication this week.”

Fort Worth, Texas-based Bell Helicopter and National Journal also contacted CAIR to express regret for the publication of the ad, the organization said.

“We recognize that some organizations and individuals may have been offended by its content and regret any concerns this advertisement may have raised,” the Bell statement read. “Bell and our partners are evaluating creative processes to prevent this from happening again.”

The ad for the CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft depicted soldiers rappelling onto the roof of a building, labeled “Muhammad Mosque” in Arabic. The building has a dome, crescent moon and minaret, all common features of a mosque.

CAIR sent a letter yesterday to top officials of Boeing, Bell and Textron asking the firms to withdraw the ad and conduct an investigation into how it was approved for publication. (Bell Helicopter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Textron.)

The V-22 is undergoing testing as a troop carrier that can fly like an airplane to a site, then tilt its rotors from the vertical to horizontal position, allowing it to hover like a helicopter.

The image in the Osprey ad is one of several provocative visuals TM has created for print ads that appear in defense industry trade publications. An ad for Bell’s AH-1Z attack helicopter shows the craft rising out of a flaming background heavily armed with missiles. The headline reads: “We made it beautiful. Because it’s the last thing some people will ever see.”

The story updates an article that appeared earlier today.