A POWERFUL WAY TO SAY GOODBYE

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Shalom, chaver. Goodbye, friend."

President Clinton's initial words to his nation after learning of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin were quickly adopted by a Tel Aviv ad agency.

Gitam/ BBDO President Moshe Theumim explained: "The staff decided to find a way to translate their grief through their craft."

Overnight, that staff created, then distributed 100,000 bumper stickers bearing President Clinton's message through the streets of Tel Aviv. Another 700,000 bumper stickers were inserted into Yediot Aharonot, the nation's largest-circulation daily.

At the same time, outdoor boards and posters went up overnight as symbols of grief, and hundreds of black-bordered ads or death notices, paid for by individuals and companies, crowded the pages of Israel's newspapers, both in Hebrew and English.

If advertising practitioners needed validation, this was it: a powerful reminder that advertising can be used to express all kinds of messages-including grief.

Israelis are both a very expressive people and reportedly the largest per capita consumers of news. So it is not surprising that, in the week following Prime Minister Rabin's slaying, thousands of messages were posted on the Internet and commercial online services' forums such as Compu-Serve's Israel Forum.

This outpouring of emotion, not only from Israel but from around the world, underlined humanity's need to communicate. The Internet provides a new medium, a new community in which to communicate. And advertising-which is, after all, another form of communication-provides other ways.

The Israeli use of advertising to express a country's shock and sadness reminds all of us in the advertising industry just how powerful the communication is.

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