A Texas sign company called Hornet Signs has gotten out of control with its most recent sign creation. KWTX News 10 in Waco, Texas reported last week that Hornet Signs created a truck decal of a blond woman lying curled up on her side with her hands tied and her hair covering her face. The decal is meant to be placed on the rear of a truck to create the illusion that there is a woman lying in distress in the back of the truck.
After the image of the decal stirred up a considerable amount of controversy, Gordon Collier from KWTX asked viewers whether they thought this was poor taste or good business. My question is, how on earth did anyone think — even for a second — this was a good idea?
Brad Kolb, owner of Hornet Signs, said in his defense, "I wasn't expecting the reactions that we got, nor was it really anything we certainly condone or anything else, but it was just something...we had to put out there to see who notices it."
Kolb's statement raises a few concerns. First, the fact that it didn't even cross his mind that this sign might be inappropriate is worrisome. Is the reason behind this that domestic abuse has become so prevalent an issue in our society that it's hardly worthy of mention anymore?
Second, if the goal of putting this decal out was solely to see how many people would notice it, then the company is not very good at predicting market responses. An image as provocative as this decal is bound to generate attention from the public. There should not have been any question whether someone driving down the street behind a truck with a woman lying tied up inside would take notice. The question, rather, should have been, what does this message convey, and is it appropriate?
When KWTX viewers were asked for their opinion of the decal, most responses were, unsurprisingly, against it. Julie Gerstein at The Frisky said, "The sad thing is, this isn’t even an original idea. Similar truck decals featuring hogtied women, like this, and this, all contribute to a culture of violence against women. Plus, this can’t be making local police happy. How many false 911 calls have been made because of these things?" As a matter of fact, some viewers reported that they did call the police when they saw the sign because they thought a woman was truly in danger.
In response to the controversy, Hornet has made many attempts to redeem itself and ask for sympathy. On Sunday, it posted this status on Facebook:
A few hours later, Hornet created a poll on its website asking users whether they thought Compassion or Controversy should win, and then tweeted the following:
In a final effort, Hornet posted its very first blog post, again reiterating the claim that the company has not made a penny off this campaign (so it must be OK?).
Hornet made an unquestionably insensitive and distasteful decision in creating this decal, and the fact that it hasn't been profitable unfortunately doesn't make it any less offensive. This failed campaign should serve as a reminder to businesses to always think twice before releasing controversial material, and more importantly as a reminder to the public that domestic abuse is a real thing that affects many women in our communities, and we should be looking for solutions to the problem, not joking around about it.