I have a friend, who, like me is heartily disgusted with Powershop.co.nz using the image of a mass murderer in their advertising. As she says, it’s bloody vile, so she’s sent them this excellent letter:
I think it is absolutely disgusting that you have used an image of Che Guevara to advertise your energy. Of course, in a society of free speech, that is your privilege to do so. This man is not a great revolutionary, he is a mass murderer and a coward, and whoever made this decision to use his image ought to be ashamed of themselves. At least do your homework and find out what he was responsible for. Power, at the cost of thousands of deaths of innocent people who did not hold his ideal? Give me a break! Despicable.
I await their reply with interest.
UPDATE: MikeE received a reply from Powershop that claims a semiotic justification for using a murderer in their advertising: the image of Ché, they say “has been adopted as a symbol of change in pop-culture. This image now has its own meaning that has very little, if anything, to do with Ché the person - as shallow as that may seem.”
Note that it was them who used the word “shallow” first.
Still, they say, “The poster you refer to appeared alongside others with similar messages of change and revolution. These posters have now been taken down and image does not appear in our TV commercial.”
So thank goodness for small mercies, huh. However symbolic they might be.