“It’s quite difficult to find speakers who can speak exactly like Adolf Hitler,” says Florian Gleibs, musing about an upcoming radio commercial for his Munich eatery, Schmock Restaurant. For his most recent advertisement, Gleibs plans to record a commercial featuring Hitler calling up the establishment to make a reservation, and when asked for the name, Der Fuhrer will respond with a decidedly Jewish moniker. Why the fake name? Schmock is an Israeli restaurant. And why Hitler? Well, Gleibs has a twisted sense of humor.
Gleibs, who was born in Berlin in 1971 but is of Arabian-Jewish descent, opened Schmock in 1999, and for the last six years he has been rolling out edgy advertisements in an effort to draw crowds to his unique restaurant, which serves up Middle Eastern-inspired dishes and the largest selection of kosher wine in Munich. “The Germans feel it is complicated to get in touch with the Jewish people, so we are trying to give them contact [with Jewish culture],” Gleibs says. “It’s a place to celebrate—to eat, to drink and to not always remember what the Germans did to the Jews. We’re making lots of jokes and with our commercials [trying to] not always to be a victim. We want to be a part of the community and we cannot do that if we always separate ourselves.”
Gleibs has obviously done his homework on Holocaust history. For example, one ad campaign plays off a series of Nazi advertisements that, during the pre-Holocaust era, warned Germans not to patronize Jewish shops. Gleibs appropriated this promotional scheme and cleverly flipped it on its head, instead urging Germans to “buy at the Jews, eat at the Jews, drink at the Jews.”
“Many people hated it and many people loved it,” Gleibs says. “There was nothing in-between.” The reaction against Gleibs’s tongue-in-cheek schtick had some up in arms. “They said we were making business out of six million deaths,” Gleibs says.
Still, “it was mostly the Germans [who were offended],” he says. “All the Jews liked it, they were laughing about it. But the Germans, they are very sensitive with this.”
Check out the most bizarre uses of Hitler in advertising.