Amazon has pulled ads for its series The Man in the High Castle plastered throughout the New York City subway system that featured symbols from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Variety reports.
The new series, based on Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel of the same name, is an alternate history that imagines a world where the Allies lost World War II. The American coasts are controlled by Nazi and Japanese puppet regimes, while a free section remains in the Rocky Mountains.
The now-nixed promotion included posters in 260 subway stations, as well as a "wrap" of the 42nd street Shuttle car, which runs between Grand Central Station and Times Square. For the immersive Shuttle campaign, the inside and outside of the cars were covered in images from The Man in the High Castle, and notably featured subway seats covered in vinyl wrapping embossed with either a variation on Japan's WWII-era flag, or an American flag with the stars replaced by a Nazi Reichsadler eagle.
The posters first went up on November 9th, while the Shuttle "wrap" arrived on November 15th; both were scheduled to run through December 14th.
As Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for New York City Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority explained, the ads did not break any of the organization's advertising standards. Specifically, ads are supposed to be "content-neutral" and cannot push for a certain cause.
"The MTA is a government agency and can't accept or reject ads based on how we feel about them," Ortiz said. "We have to follow the standards approved by our board."
The ads nevertheless caused a stir among passengers and advocacy groups, and also drew the ire of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said in a statement, "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. Amazon should take them down."
The Man in the High Castle debuted its first season on Amazon last Friday. The show was given a full season order after its pilot premiered in January and became the site's most-watched show since it began developing original programming.