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Company pulls billboard blasted as anti-Semitic

NBC New York

An ad agency faced backlash over a controversial billboard over the West Side Highway.

NEW YORK -- A controversial billboard over the West Side Highway advertising Wodka brand vodka was taken down after NBC New York's inquiries to the company about its questionable messaging.

The billboard showed a Chihuahua dog in a Santa hat and a Russian wolfhound dog in a yarmulke. "Christmas Quality, Hanukkah Pricing," the text read.

An NBC New York viewer emailed the newsroom about the ad, saying she was "appalled" and that she wanted what she considered the anti-Semitic ad removed.

The Anti-Defamation League weighed in on its website Tuesday after hearing about the billboard, labeling it "cruel and offensive," and said it reinforced anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Representatives of Wodka Vodka told NBC New York the billboards were made specifically for New York City. "We were celebrating Hanukkah as a great value," said James Dale, explaining the holiday has eight days while Christmas has just one.

Shu D-Jong, a second company representative who met with NBC New York in the Midtown offices of its distributor, said some of the company partners are Jewish and that the ad is "consistent with previous marketing."

See video, read the original story at NBCNewYork.com

Earlier billboards touted similarly pointed messages, reading, "Hamptons quality, Newark pricing," "Movie star quality, reality star pricing," and "Escort quality, hooker pricing."

The two company representatives insisted there has been no backlash until now.

But some New Yorkers pointed out that the company has never made religious comparisons before.

"That's no way to sell vodka in New York," said Joel Liberson.

Dale told NBC New York, "We don't want to offend anyone," and that the company was in the process of taking down the controversial vodka ads.