Eyewear Company Blasted After Releasing Ads Filmed At A WWII Death Camp

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The Australian Valley Eyewear Company released an ad featuring models walking around a Croatian WWII death camp, and the public reacted with outrage and calls to boycott the company.

The setting of the ad was a Jasenovac concentration camp, where 83,145 people were killed. Victims included Serbs, Romani, and Jewish people, which included over 20,000 children. The public immediately recognized the setting of the ad since it featured the iconic Jasenovac Flower Memorial, reported DW.

In defense, the company founder Michael Crawley has stated that “We didn’t know it was a death camp at the time… We didn’t want to offend anybody, we’re a respectful brand. I apologise to anyone who’s offended.”

Crawley emphasized that the ads were pulled “since some images have offended people which was NEVER what we had wanted in a million years.” He also said that the video was made “[i]n memory of the tens of thousands of people that perished at the site.”

Meanwhile, the BBC reported that the ads were pulled after the director of the memorial reached out to Crawley and asked him to do so.

Crawley added that they chose the location for the shoot since they were seeking “futuristic former Yugoslavia monuments.” Moreover, he added that “a few images have been taken completely out of context.”

After the public reacted in fierce opposition to the ad, Crawley has reportedly reached out to the head of the Jasenovac memorial and to the heads of the Australian Jewish communities to apologize.

Meanwhile, the Director of the memorial, Ivo Pejakovic, did not know that the filming had taken place and explained, “We don’t have any fences, walls or barriers, and of course you could record inside the site. There are security guards, but they cannot know who would use the photos and for which purpose.”

The ad that has since been removed was of a male and female model wearing Valley Eyewear sunglasses walking around in a concrete room. The video then cut to the models walking away from the Flower Memorial.

The concentration camp was in operation between 1941 through 1945. It was run by the Croatian Ustashes, who were Nazi allies. And although experts estimate the death toll to be around 83,000, many believe that it was much more. Because of the discrepancy, Croatian Serbs and Jewish representatives have boycotted ceremonies at the site for years. They accuse the Croatian government of not fully admitting to the extent of the horrible crimes that were committed there.