The Cayman Islands government has written to US telecom giant AT&T calling on it to cease and desist from using an advertisement which paints the Cayman Islands in a negative light.
It follows Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers’ vow last November to challenge Hollywood over negative connotations concerning Cayman in US films and TV shows.
The Cayman Compass reached out to the Financial Services Ministry about the TV ad, which has been making the rounds on local social media platforms. It was also recently released and posted to YouTube.com.
In a brief response, the ministry said it was aware of the ad.
“The Cayman Islands Government has already written to AT&T’s legal department, asking the company to cease and desist using the ad on all media platforms; and reserving the Government’s right to legal and appropriate regulatory actions. As a result, the Ministry will not be taking further action,” the statement said.
The video ad, titled ‘OK Tax Professional’, is set in an office and the main character, named Phil, appears to be a shady tax professional who tells his customer he can get her taxes in an “OK place”.
The customer points to photos of Phil on his desk, noting that he takes a lot of trips to “the Caymans”. One photo shows Phil with a yacht in the background with the name Offshore Accounts and another photo shows him surrounded by parrots.
The tax professional then goes on to say Phil is legally dead as he fell off a boat and he is now called Dennis Celery. The man opens a folder and says, “You won’t want to see this” and then shreds a document. The customer walks away, saying, “This isn’t going to work out.”
The tagline in the ad is “Just OK is not OK.”
The advertisement is one of several recent instances in which Cayman has been referenced in a light that paints it as an avenue for money laundering and criminal acts.
Popular US TV shows ‘Law and Order SVU’, ‘Jane the Virgin’ and ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ named Cayman when referring to suspects moving or hiding money and engaging in criminal financing.
In November, Rivers said her ministry would mount a new campaign this year to clear Cayman’s name, and funds were allocated in the 2020/21 budget to educate and dispel misconceptions about Cayman’s financial services industry.
She said there continue to be adverse throwaway references to Cayman in film, and added that her ministry would lead a targeted campaign to engage with entertainment company executives “to correct the record, educate content providers and to set the record straight about Cayman’s commitment to meeting international standards and its ongoing commitment to combat financial crime and tax evasion”.
The Compass reached out to AT&T for comment on the Ministry’s position and spokesperson Jim Kimberly responded via email acknowledging the matter.
He said the issue is being dealt with by the telecom company.
“This ad was intended to be humorous and to remind people that we have America’s best wireless network according to America’s biggest test. We are changing the ad,” Kimberly told the Compass in an emailed statement Wednesday evening.
Editor’s note: Story updated to include AT&T statement.