Foundation to Combat Antisemitism launches $25 million ad campaign to foster solidarity

With TV commercials and large social media efforts, Kraft-funded initiative looks to turn the blue square emoji into the symbol of the fight against Jew-hatred

With a new $25 million ad campaign launching Monday, the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism is looking to turn the blue square emoji into the symbol for Jewish solidarity and opposition to hatred against Jewish people, the organization told eJewishPhilanthropy.

Over the next six weeks, FCAS, funded by the Kraft Family Foundation and based in Boston, will roll out four TV commercials, which will air nationwide, and run a social media campaign, which will encourage people to use the blue square emoji and the hashtag #StandUpToJewishHate, the group said.

“This is a real passion project for the Kraft family and for Robert Kraft personally. He sees this as his legacy,” FCAS Executive Director Matthew Berger told eJP on Sunday night, just before the launch of the campaign.

According to Berger, who took over as executive director of FCAS last year, the campaign was driven in large part by findings of a recent survey that showed that roughly half of Americans don’t believe that antisemitism is a problem and most of the rest believe that it is a problem that Jews can solve alone.

Last week, the Anti-Defamation League released its annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which found that 2022 saw the largest number of attacks against Jews – assault, harassment and vandalism – since the organization started tracking these figures in 1979. Though some of this can be attributed to better reporting techniques, experts believe that antisemitism is indeed a growing threat in the United States.

“Our goal is to increase the number of people who see antisemitism as a problem and to get people to be ‘upstanders’ against antisemitism,” Berger told eJP. Potentially something like the actions of the city of Billings, Mont., when, in 1993, white supremacists moved in, harassing Black, Jewish and Native American residents. In response, the city’s newspaper, The Billings Gazette, printed a full-page menorah, which citizens pasted in their own windows en masse as a show of solidarity.

For that reason, the commercials are all “focused on the role of the non-Jewish person,” he explained. In one, a neighbor paints over a swastika that had been drawn on a Jewish family’s home. In another, a father chastises his son for posting antisemitic comments online.

“We’re not looking to wag a finger at anyone. We’re looking to bring people on board,” Berger said.

The campaign will launch on Monday night on NBC during “The Voice.” Shortly before a commercial break, a small blue box will appear on screen. The show’s host, Carson Daly, will draw the viewer’s attention to the box, noting that it takes up 2.4% of the screen, the same percentage as Jews make up of the population of the United States. That will lead into the first commercial of the campaign, which introduces the blue square as being “synonymous with standing up against antisemitism and Jew-hatred,” Berger said, comparing it to the rainbow flag signifying support for the LGBTQ community.

In addition to the TV ads, FCAS is also working with a number of social media influencers to further spread the blue square emoji and accompanying hashtag. 

According to Berger, this will be the largest antisemitism awareness campaign of its kind in the United States. It will also be the first large-scale campaign organized by FCAS, which was founded in 2019 after Robert Kraft was awarded the Genesis Prize. Preparations for the campaign began roughly a year ago, before Berger stepped in as executive director. In a trial run, FCAS ran two commercials to raise awareness about antisemitism this past NFL season, one airing in October and another on New Year’s Day.

To determine the efficacy of the campaign, Berger said FCAS will be “working with our media partners to assess the reach [of the ads] and track how many people share our blue square on social media.”