Part of Amazon's ad campaign for alternate history series The Man in the High Castle hasn't gone over well — specifically, the part that wrapped New York subway seats with iconography from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Variety initially reported that Amazon asked the New York MTA to take down ads that blend the American flag with fascist symbols in response to criticism of the images, but then published a follow-up story that indicated the company may not have actually stepped in to remove the ads. Instead, a source for Variety told the publication that "various authorities" had exerted pressure on the MTA to take them off. The MTA confirmed to The Verge that the ads are indeed being removed; Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The campaign first got mainstream attention yesterday, when photos of the flags — which incorporate Imperial Japan's Rising Sun design and the Nazi Iron Eagle, with the emblem's swastika removed — appeared on Twitter. While they make sense within the Nazi-occupied America where the show is set, regional Anti-Defamation League director Evan Bernstein argued that the flags' design and placement erased this necessary context, ultimately "exploiting things that are so sensitive to so many people."
The MTA bans explicitly political advertisements, but it's a fuzzy line, especially when the statements are promoting a piece of entertainment that has political elements. The agency previously confirmed that the ads fit its policy, saying that "under the First Amendment, we as a public entity are required to post the ads." But Mayor Bill de Blasio unofficially urged Amazon to change course regardless. "While these ads technically may be within MTA guidelines, they’re irresponsible and offensive to World War II and Holocaust survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers," he said in a statement, quoted by Gothamist. "Amazon should take them down."
Update November 24th, 10:45 PM ET: Variety reports now that Amazon may not have requested the ads removed, and that they were taken down after pressure from other authorities.