Turkish hair removal company Eplia’s latest advertisement is based around an extremely popular Turkish meme. What they failed to realize is that the person in the meme is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, widely known as the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The popular photo of Mohammed used in these meme’s depict him wearing a wide-necked white T-shirt with visible body hair. He is currently jailed in Guantanamo Bay facing the death penalty, if convicted.
Eplia representative Mehmet Can Yildiz said,
“We didn’t know that he was a terrorist. This image is in popular use in Turkish memes on the Internet. The guy is quite hairy, so we thought his body was a good fit for our ad.”
The Turkish hair removal company did not research the origin behind the popular meme photo other than finding the image on Inci Sözlük, the Turkish online social community website similar to the U.S. 4chan.org as an insomnia related meme. Yildiz went on to say that the company was in no way making a political statement.
“I repeat: We featured him for his hair, not terrorism,” Yildiz said.
The Twittersphere had plenty of sarcasm for the company’s choice of product model.
In marketing as well as public relations, research is the foundation for all strategic planning and branding. Do you think the company was remotely on the right track by using this popular Turkish meme or do you think that their lack of research is unacceptable? Also, do you think that this marketing snafu will cost this international company business?