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Julia Louis-Dreyfus Commercial Pulled From Israeli TV for Offending Overweight Women (Video)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Melanie Acevedo/artistrepinc.com

In the spot, the actress rubs the stomach of an unpregnant coworker and congratulates her on being with child.

A regional TV commercial starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus has generated controversy in Israel after offending some viewers with its jokey portrayal of overweight women. In a formal letter of complaint issued last week, the spot was referred to as an “evident and unjustified insult to a substantial majority of the people."

In the McCann Erickson-produced commercial for local satellite television provider Yes, which holds broadcast rights to HBO shows including Louis-Dreyfus’ Veep, the actress stumbles when congratulating a larger female colleague on her pregnancy, patting the woman on her belly, only to realize she is not with child. She continues making awkward mistakes with other workers, culminating in a remark that the hefty woman can’t be pregnant, “because obviously she hasn’t dated anyone in forever.”

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Israel’s Yedid Association for Community Empowerment sent the formal complaint to Yes CEO Ron Ayalon and to the government-appointed Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Council stating: “There are a lot of weight-challenged individuals in Israel who are treated in an irreverent and hurtful manner. There is no justification to illustrate a stigma which suggests a larger woman is either pregnant or simply too fat for anyone to consider going out with.”

The intended concept of the commercial was to emphasize to non-subscribers that they can rectify their mistake and switch over to Yes.

On Wednesday, Israeli regulatory body the Second Authority for Television & Radio ordered Yes to pull the spot indefinitely. "The Yes commercial has been hurtful to a portion of the public, despite the inherent freedom of speech in advertising media,” said the statement. “Should there be a new request to air the spot, the authority will need to re-examine the material and deliberate then."

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Yes has since taken the commercial off the air, as well as pulled it from the company’s official YouTube account, replacing it with a shortened text-based spot. In a statement Yes apologized, explaining that “the playful commercial was based on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' past characters, and the message is how one may handle making a mistake. If anyone is being ridiculed throughout the spot it is Julia herself who is the one making these mistakes.”

UPDATE: The commercial has been removed from YouTube.

SECOND UPDATE:  Mirit Cohen, spokesperson for Yes DBS Satellite Services, told THR that the spot was not pulled as a direct result of the complaint. "The commercial recently finished its broadcasting cycle per the original marketing plan. It was never pulled, nor asked to be pulled by Yes or the regulator."