There have been a number of bad ideas floated this week. Chief among them, in my opinion, was Nike’s “Just Do It” ad campaign featuring former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I still think in the long run that is really going to hurt their brand. But there were other missteps as well… and one of them is a doozy.
Garieri Jewelers is a small business in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. They have just proven why you should not try and capitalize on politics in your marketing campaigns. Now, they are under fire from both sides for their blunder.
They have erected a billboard that the left is labeling racist. On the right, it’s being viewed as taking the kneeling during the National Anthem issue too lightly in the face of disrespect for our country, our police officers, our military veterans and our first responders. Not cool.
Garieri Jewelers set up an ad on a billboard along Route 20 in Charlton that shows a young man kneeling on a football field with an engagement ring asking his best girl to marry him. The caption reads, “If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand.”
You might look at that and say the owner is making a clever statement that you should only kneel to ask your paramour to marry you on the field. But doing that during the National Anthem would not be good either. I guess the left sees it as racist because the couple is white… I don’t get it.
This idea was probably spawned by the Nike ad. It backfired big time and infuriated proud Americans from both sides of the political aisle. The store owner says it was a play on words surrounding the NFL player protest of kneeling during the National Anthem.
“It was intended to be attention-getting,” said Scott Garieri, the owner. He admits he was looking for attention here, but what he didn’t count on is what kind he would get.
“Someone saw it, pulled in off Route 20 and took a picture of it and then went off about how racist it is,” said Garieri. “Then they started attacking us, they wanted to come in and vomit on the [jewelry] cases, they were going to urinate on our sidewalks.” One social media comment went as far as suggesting Garieri’s daughter kill herself.
That’s the world we live in now, laid bare by social media. Death threats over a billboard that is in bad taste are terroristic in nature and just over the top violent and inexcusable. And when you see threats like these, most of the time, in my experience, they are from leftists.
Nike’s controversial ad bears the slogan: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Kaepernick has sacrificed nothing and those such as the police and our veterans have sacrificed everything. Meanwhile, Kaepernick makes millions.
I guess the store owner somehow thought this would be good for business but it was a phenomenally bad idea. When you have a social controversy such as the National Anthem issue with tempers running hot on both sides, you should never try and use it as a sales tactic. You just wind up ticking everyone off.
To be fair to the jewelry store owner, he says he opposes kneeling during the National Anthem. But his ad tried to capitalize on it and some see that as a sick form of self-capitalization. “I’m a firm believer in respecting the country, respecting the flag, respecting the National Anthem,” said Garieri.
One man named Mike Brady works near where that billboard is located. It had the opposite effect on him and he says it made him realize that discussions on social justice should be taken more seriously. That sounds very liberal to me.
“I have family members who fought at war and died at war, the National Anthem is very sacred,” said Brady. “At the same time, I have a son who is biracial. I can certainly see the players’ position on social issues need a lot more attention and how do we bring attention to it.”
“It wasn’t meant to be racist, business is business,” said Garieri. Yes, but some business is very bad business. See Marketing 101.
Garieri says the billboard is staying up because it’s generated so much response it’s worth the negative backlash. He may regret that a great deal and soon, but who knows? Nike’s sales jumped 31 percent this week – that won’t hold, but it says an awful lot about the current state of our politics in this country.
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