Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Shoppers Drug Mart "de-listing" of Adbusters is/is not the result of "a successful lobby" by CJC

The removal of Adbusters magazine from more than 500 Shoppers Drug Mart stores is the result of either a) a boycott campaign led by the Canadian Jewish Congress or b) a coincidental outcome of a periodic review of which magazines the chain carries.
The controversy concerns a photo essay entitled "Truthbombs" which combines pictures of the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto during the Second World War with recent pictures of Israeli actions in Gaza. The CJC called the comparison "obscene" and urged its supporters to speak up with store owners about carrying "garbage" like the magazine. [See our earlier post.]
According to a Globe and Mail article, Lisa Gibson, the director of communications and corporate affairs for  Shoppers says she first heard about the removal of the bi-monthly from the shelves when the CJC called Tuesday to ask if it was so.
Kalle Lasn, the Adbusters co-founder and publisher, said in an opinion piece in the National Post published Tuesday that the cancellation was the result of a "successful lobby" by the CJC. He urged readers to turn the tables and to urge Shoppers Drug Mart managers to put Adbusters back on the shelves.
"In Canada, we should be free to choose from a diversity of viewpoints and decide for ourselves what is anti-Semitic and what is a legitimate critique of Israel's occupation of Palestine." 
Bernie Farber, the CEO of the CJC told the Globe there was no organized lobby: "It's an outright lie." Farber said that the CJC did not counsel a boycott, but urged individual action.
Lasn told the Globe that he was informed by newsstand distributor Coast to Coast Newsstand Services about the removal 10 days ago. 
“Not the current issue” with the “Truthbombs” photos, he noted, “but 3,500 copies of our year-end issue and all future issues ... due to customer complaints. As far as I know,” Lasn added, “all other Canadian newsstands are okay and our international distribution remains unaffected.”
Coast to Coast president and CEO Glenn Morgan said Tuesday that Shoppers’ decision to “de-list” Adbusters was conveyed “just after the latest issue went on sale, with the article that’s caused some grief on the Israeli issue.” However, Morgan said “there wasn’t any background information [provided in the decision]. It was just a directive that was issued.”
Lasn told the Globe than the iconoclastic magazine's worldwide circulation -- largely in the U.S. -- is 80,000 and that while being de-listed by Shoppers is a loss, it will amount to about 1,500 sales.


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