NEW YORK TIMES AD BY KENAR PUSHES THE ENVELOPE
Catalyst November Issue 1997
In the September 23 edition of the New York Times, there was an ad by the women’s apparel company, Kenar, that pushed the envelope too far. It showed a handsome priest leering at a sensuous-looking woman while dining together. The full-page ad was more than provocative, it was abusive.
In response, the league issued the following statement to the press:
“The phones at the Catholic League lit up yesterday in response to the Kenar ad. And rightfully so: Kenar’s ad represents the crass exploitation of Catholic priests for the purpose of making a quick buck. Unethical on the face of it, the ad is consistent with the politics of Kenar.
“Kenar is the same company that manages to give money for breast cancer research while at the same time defending one of the prominent causes of the disease, namely abortion. The company also contributes to AIDS research while simultaneously bragging that one of its new models ‘bar[es] it all to the public on behalf of Kenar as she poses with only a banana leaf covering her….’ Now if someone said they were funding the battle against lung cancer while throwing a smoking party, everyone would know how absurd this was. Why it isn’t evident to Kenar, and to everyone else, just how self-defeating their well-intended contributions are is incredible.
“Kenar has every right to contribute to the resolution of diseases, the causes of which it helps to promote, but it has no right to do so while exploiting Catholic priests at the same time. If the decision-makers at Kenar have no common sense, perhaps they can hire someone to show them what common decency means.”
No sooner had the ad appeared, than the cameras were in the office of William Donohue filming an interview. From Kenar came the incredible comment that the priest was not really leering at the woman. It fooled no one. The league was gratified to learn that even those persons who often disagree with the league’s positions were happy that we objected to this ad.