Samsung Electronics is facing a backlash in Iran over a commercial that featured its tablet PC blowing up what appears to be an Iranian nuclear facility.
The company has made clear that it did not take part in the production of the advertisement and that Israeli cable television channel HOT had made the clip to promote itself.
“Currently, the cable channel has stopped running the commercial on YouTube,” said a Samsung executive. “We’re not planning to take particular action at this point as we have already confirmed the firm has had nothing to do with the commercial.”
Samsung, however, said it was giving safety instructions to the local workers at its Tehran branch, even considering withdrawing its sales operations in the country in case of an emergency.
The event comes as a senior Iranian lawmaker said last week that Iran’s Majlis Energy Committee was looking into imposing a sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab over the commercial.
The commercial presents several Israeli Mossad agents, dressed up as women, in a caf near a possible Iranian nuclear facility. The agents then run into a man using a Samsung Galaxy Tab. One of the agents pushes a button on the device and sets off an explosion at the nuclear plant that appears in the background.
A foreign media outlet quoted Arsalan Fat’hipour, chief of the Majlis Energy Committee, as saying that the commercial was “insulting” to Iranian society because it depicted Israel as “powerful enough to easily destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities or assassinate the country’s nuclear scientists.”
In response, the Samsung executive said its tablet PC was only featured because it was offered as a gift to attract new viewers, indicating it was part of the cable TV’s subscription campaign.
The controversy comes after the Iranian government attempted to retaliate against Seoul over the country’s involvement in the U.S.-led sanctions on oil imports earlier last month.
The Iranian government had demanded Korean firms, including Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, tear down their outdoor advertising billboards in Tehran, but withdrew the order due to protests from the Korean Embassy.
Although they were back in place by early January, some of the outdoor advertisements were reportedly torn down in a few parts of Tehran.
Seoul has expressed support for U.S.-led sanctions against the Middle Eastern country and the government is currently weighing options on how to reduce its reliance on Iranian oil in step with the U.S. and the European Union.
Seoul also added over 100 names to a financial blacklist of Iranian firms and individuals in December.
By Cho Ji-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)