If you overhear someone talking about the subway and Nazis in the next few weeks, don’t blame Godwin’s Law. It turns out that Nazi and Imperial Japan insignia have actually taken over the 42nd Street subway shuttle, all thanks to Amazon. As Gothamist pointed out on Monday, the company is promoting its new TV series The Man in the High Castle — an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel that imagines what America would be like if the Axis Powers won World War II — with 260 subway posters … and a few subway cars decked out in Nazi Germany– and Imperial Japan–influenced American flags, giving commuters traveling from Grand Central to Times Square the opportunity to briefly experience a far more depressing alternate reality from now until December 14.
Many subway riders who stumbled upon this alternate-universe advertisement wondered why anyone thought this was a good idea.
MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg writes in an email that the agency “reviewed the ad and determined it does not violate any of the content-neutral ad standards that our board adopted earlier this year.” He wasn’t aware of any other previous subway ads that had contained such a potent and controversial historical reference, but added that “creative advertising people are always coming up with new ways to get attention for their products. That’s why they’re in advertising.”
The immersive ad is running on the shortest subway line in the city, which probably helps prevent it from offending too many riders, while also making sure that Amazon manages to get enough people talking about the fact that, yes, it did manage to get an ad covered in Nazi symbols on the subway (leaving out the swastikas probably helped).
The MTA has received one complaint about the ad.