Strong reaction to a radio ad that never aired has led the car dealership behind the spot to apologize and cancel plans to run it.

In the spot, which was presented to radio executives last week, Keith Dennis, principal owner and CEO of Dennis Mitsubishi, talks about “launching a jihad on the automotive market.”

Some radio stations told Dennis that the spot was insensitive, and they would not run it if Dennis went through with plans to buy air time.

The ad featured several references to terrorism and the war in Iraq. It referred to one car that “can comfortably seat up to 12 jihadists in the back” and said that on “fatwa Friday,” free rubber swords would be offered to children. Aaron Masterson, general manager of Dennis Auto Point, said last week that the ad would run. But on Sunday, the dealership pulled the ad from consideration after The Dispatch’s story on Saturday about the proposed ad attracted widespread attention.

“The story has sparked a significant reaction,” Keith Dennis said in a news release. “Many Internet-based media outlets have picked up this story. ”¦ A large number of people have contacted us. Lots of them have seen the humor we were trying to convey, but far too many were clearly bothered by it. This was simply an attempt at humor that fell short.

“I wish to offer my sincere apology to anyone who was offended,” he said in the statement. “We do not wish to alienate anyone in our community – all of whom are potential customers. And we especially want to re-emphasize our support of the U.S. troops in harm’s way overseas.

“Never have I seen a commercial that never aired generate such a huge response,” Dennis said. “It is my hope that this statement clarifies our position, and we can return to business as usual.”

Mitsubishi Motors North America said in a statement yesterday that it had “strongly urged him (Dennis) not to run the campaign,” noting that the campaign “runs contrary to our company values.”

“We are pleased that this campaign will not run,” Mitsubishi said, “and apologize to all those who were offended.”


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