Wide Angle

British Workshop's advertisement campaign accused of encouraging people to commit suicide

British Workshop, a school for teaching English has chosen the wrong way to advertise its services. Once the ad was displayed on the billboards all over the streets of Casablanca, Internet users expressed their anger, disappointment and frustration. A joke that was taken the other way.

An ad displayed in the streets of Casablanca for British Workshop./Ph. DR
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Internet users have been honest about the latest advertisement billboards displayed in the city of Casablanca. British Workshop, a school dedicated to teaching English present in Casablanca, Mohammedia and Rabat, has created an advertising campaign that was met with mixed feelings on social media. Some liked the idea while others disliked it and found it went too far.

The ad shows a man pointing a gun to his head and standing while a phrase in English says «If you still don't speak English». It doesn't end there as the rest of the sentence is in Moroccan Arabic and it literally invites those who cannot speak the language yet to «go die».

While others liked the message and laughed at the «joke», some were very angry at the fact that the ad could actually harm youngsters. Commenting on the advertisement, several Internet users, especially on Facebook, explained that the sentence could be an invitation to people who do not speak English to commit suicide.

Just a joke 

Contacted by Yabiladi, Thami Ben Boujida, the owner and CEO of the company that runs the schools denied all allegations. He however explained that the ad had a humorous intent that resembles the language used by youngsters. «This saying exists in our culture, but no one dares to say that in front of everyone», Ben Boujdira stated. «We did that in a humorous way and of course we were not literally asking people to die», he said adding that it was a «creative way of asking people to pay more attention to the language».

Regarding the negative comments on social media, Ben Boujdira insisted that «many people liked the advertisement and called today to register and join the school». When asked about his reaction to the wave of anger that occurred right after releasing the ad, Ben Boujdira said :

«I have seen on Facebook negative comments, but I believe that we should see things from a different perspective. English is a very important language and it is spoken the world over.»

The Minister said it before

Speaking about the sentence that most Internet users found offensive and controversial, the owner of British Workshop said that he was not the first one to use such an expression. In fact, Ben Boujdira referred to Lahcen Daoudi, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. In May 2016, the Minister said before the students of Ibn Zohr university in Agadir that «the student who does not master English has nothing to do but dig his own grave». As harsh as it sounds, the ad remains allegedly a bit harsher as there is an image to illustrate the act.

The company, British Workshop, announced on its official page on Facebook yesterday that it will remove the posters that have been displayed for more than two days in the city of Casablanca. The statement included an apology to the audience and people who felt offended and shocked by the content of the poster.

The British Embassy and Council have no connection to British Workshop

Following the negative comments that targeted an advertisement poster created by British Workshop, The British Council, a British organization specialized in international cultural and educational opportunities and the British Embassy in Morocco have tweeted today that they are  not related to the above-mentioned school. The British establishment which operates in over 100 countries including Morocco and the Embassy, stated that :

«The British Embassy & Council want to be 100% clear we have NO connection to "British Workshop" and its distasteful ad for English teaching».