A decal by Hornet Signs in Waco, Texas is gaining national attention for its blase depiction of violence against women. The offensive image is a life-size, realistic decal of a female employee bound and tied in the back of another employee's truck, and it's raising the blood pressure of activists. Brad Kolb, the owner of the company, says the sticker was intended to measure response to their products. He told KWTX, a local news broadcaster that he "wasn't expecting" the reaction the decal received. "Nor do we condone this by any means,” he added.
Really, Brad? So you don't "condone" violence against women, but you're cool with depicting it in order to sell more decals? He was right, actually — he notes in the interview that his decal orders have increased. It's sickening.
There is no point in pretending that using graphic and disturbing pictures of violence against women is a new idea. Remember the countdown to Snooki being punched in the face? Or PETA using a limping woman in a neck-brace to illustrate hot sex? Or the Dolce & Gabbana gang rape ad?
The company has since put up links to domestic violence helplines on their site and a lame video where they are "looking for help" in determining if people are motivated by compassion or if they are motivated by controversy. They say they made a donation to stop violence against women and are working with a local advocacy group.
We could turn this really stupid marketing idea into a great conversation-starter. After all, it seems like the company has expressed regret about the decal, right? Wrong. The picture is still up on the company's Facebook page despite protests of hundreds of people. The caption on the picture glibly reads "Definitely a head-turner." This is not the sort of action of a company that truly cares about social responsibility.
There's also a graphic that's not getting as much attention: what appears to be a Mexican worker tied up with a plastic bag around his head. Given the track record of Texas when it comes to exploiting immigrant Mexican workers this is especially disturbing.
(Photo from Jezebel.com)
In 2011, according to the Texas Council of Family Violence, there were 177,983 reports of family violence; 11,833 people sheltered; and 102 women killed.
How far is too far? That's the question companies should ask before they put out a product, not as a reactive fauxpology when they step over the line. A lot of people protesting the use of a tied up woman on Hornet Signs Facebook page have personal experiences with domestic violence. A lot of people are speaking from pain. If Kolb and company doesn't condone violence against women, or men, why are they using this campaign to show off how realistic their decals are?