Amazon To Pull ‘High Castle’ Ads Suggesting Nazis From NYC Subways (EXCLUSIVE)

Man in the High Castle Amazon
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

A furor appears to have stopped the Führer. Amazon Studios will pull ad signage from New York City subways that used insignia suggesting Nazi control to promote the streaming-video service’s new drama, “The Man in the High Castle.”

“Amazon has just decided to pull the ads,” Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for New York City Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said by email Tuesday. Executives at Amazon were not available for immediate comment.

The ads were part of a “wrap” of the New York City Shuttle, a subway line that runs between Grand Central Terminal and Times Square. “The Man In The High Castle” is an Amazon drama that has gained critical acclaim since Amazon released ten episodes earlier this month. Based on a 1962 novel by Philip K. Dick, “Castle” tells the story of people in the United States struggling in an alternate future in which the Axis powers won World War II.

The ads did not come in the form of traditional billboards or signs, but rather an immersive decoration that covered the seats and walls of subway cars. On some seats, riders found an insignia reminiscent of Japan’s Rising Sun. A German “Iron Eagle” festooned other seat backs.

The ads were acceptable under the MTA’s current content guidelines, Ortiz said. The Authority’s current standards, adopted in April of this year, do not permit the acceptance of ads that are designed to express opinion or advocacy of a cause, but commercials for products  – even abstract ones like TV shows – are deemed fit. “The ads do not violate our content-neutral ad standards and thus we have no grounds to reject them.,” Ortiz said earlier Tuesday. “The MTA is a government agency and can’t accept or reject ads based on how we feel about them; we have to follow the standards approved by our board.”

Politicians and advocacy organizations recoiled, however. New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio called the ads “irresponsible and offensive” in remarks provided to the New York Daily News. The Anti-Defamation League told the New York blog Gothamist that the ads appeared out of context; straphangers would not immediately recognize they were meant to re-create the atmosphere of the Amazon program, not put symbols once ascribed to Nazi Germany in front of riders’ eyes.

Amazon had been slated to keep the Shuttle “wrap”  from November 15 to December 14, Ortiz said, while 260 subway station posters were to appear between November 9 and December 14.

While the ads may have raised eyebrows, many TV outlets have used the Shuttle train to draw attention to their coming video offerings. Time Warner’s Turner has used the subway line to spark awareness of its baseball coverage. Fox used it to call attention to “Empire.” And Starz covered the Shuttle to gin up viewership for its drama, “Power.”



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  1. Watcher says:

    It was a freaking publicity stunt for a TV show that shows just how much a nightmare life would be had those madmen won. Not glorifying said madmen. Not in the least an endorsement.

    Get some freaking perspective.

  2. I appreciate this. I started making one of these a while ago, but gave up in horror.

    I appreciate that you went through SIRT, PATH, LIRR, and Metro-North as well.

    It’s worth noting that there are very few systems in the US which aren’t 100% accessible.

    For urban transit, apart from Chicago and Boston, which you’ve already mentioned, there are:
    — Philadelphia (city) which is over 50% accessible and increasing fast
    — Philadelphia (trolleys in the western suburbs) which have rather low accessibility
    — Pittsburgh, which is well over 50% accessible
    — Cleveland, also over 50% accessible and increasing
    — Baltimore, about 50% but not making progress
    — Newark, which is a bit less than 50% accessible, with no recent progress

    If you want to look at Canada,
    — Toronto is at about 50% (and getting better).
    — Montreal is near 0% and dreadful.

    For commuter rail, there are a few more:
    — Metra (Chicago commuter) which is far more than 50% accessible
    — Caltrain (San Francisco commuter), about 80% accessible
    — South Shore Line (Chicago-South Bend commuter) which is far more than 50% accessible
    — MARC for the Maryland suburbs of DC, a little more than 50% accessible
    — Philadelphia (“regional rail”), a lot less than 50% but making fast progress
    — NJT, a lot less than 50% and not making progress

    Again, if you look at Canada,
    — Toronto commuter rail is near 100% (three or four stations left)
    — Montreal commuter rail is near 0% (terrible).

    New York is the center of awful in the US when it comes to inaccessible transit systems. Montreal is nearly as bad, but nowhere else in the US is even close to as bad. NYC Subway is terrible, LIRR is bad, Metro-North is mediocre, PATH is bad, NJT Rail is bad, Newark Light Rail is bad. I can criticize Maryland for not making any progress. Everyone else in the US is pretty good and improving.

    There is an attitude problem in the NY metro area.

  3. Great book, as were most of PK Dick’s … but the show doesn’t make it.

  4. L. M. says:

    Wow, we get bent out of shape over an ad campaign for a fictional TV show while every year we gleefully assault Native Americans with a barrage of advertising for Thanksgiving and Columbus Day.

    Hypocrisy abounds.

  5. 85wzen says:

    I guess most people are in fear or afraid of past history. Forget is the call!

  6. mikeg says:

    It looks like a thought provoking movie.
    Too bad Amazon pulled the commercial.
    Probably over just a couple whiny complainers.

  7. This show is spectacular, and I’d love to check out the book at some point. In the land of revisionist history galore, I really feel like a short run of this ad campaign could be an excellent conversation starter. Geller compares apples and oranges when she challenges the MTA for refusing to post pro-Israel propaganda in favor of advertising a fictitious show that explores a pretty fascinating narrative of where this country would potentially be had the allies not come out of WW2 on top.

    As with any other controversy, I feel like Amazon will still probably end up coming out on top as they have attracted more attention had people not spoken up about being offended in the first place, which might have been their strategy all along – they are conscious of the unique demographics of NYC. They’re the largest online retailer, after all…

    Oh, after you’re done boycotting Amazon for a week after this nonsense and come back to the dark side to reactivate your Amazon Prime account as it’s the best deal on the Internet, you should check out The Man in the High Castle. It’s really freakin’ good, and it won’t turn you into a Nazi.

    • Dennis Joseph says:

      “Nonsense”? Holocaust survivors and WWII veterans, especially those tortured (yes, some are still alive) being subjected to symbols of Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan is “nonsense”? You need to grow the hell up! If you’re so interested in this show and find it so “spectacular”, why don’t you visit Auschwitz or Pearl Harbor. Perhaps you’d find that cool too. I had uncles who fought in WWII who suffered nightmares and flashbacks the rest of their lives at the inhumanity they witnessed first hand. There is a good reason many people are offended, little boy. Get a clue and show some respect.

  8. N/A says:

    Cowards. Spineless, worthless cowards.

    • Dennis Joseph says:

      The people you judge to be spineless, worthless cowards have realized they made a grave mistake, and are doing the right thing. Unless you don’t understand what having principles means, N/A. Take a moment to actually think. You can go back to your X-Box now.

    • pookysworld says:

      Thanks I’m gonna have to watch this series . It sounds interesting.

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