The billboard advertising Garieri Jewelers in Sturbridge said: “If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!” Store Owner, Scott Garieri said that the advertisement was meant to be “attention-getting” and a “play on words”, and it did its job.
“The way that the football season was, everyone had a thing about taking the knee,” Garieri told The Washington Post. He also noted that it was his daughter Alexandria, who came up with the “catchy” phrase.
He said that at first, the reactions were positive until somebody took a picture of the billboard with a comment calling it racist. “Someone saw it, pulled in off Route 20 and took a picture of it and then went off about how racist it is," the owner told Boston 25 News, “Then they started attacking us, they wanted to come in and vomit on the [jewelry] cases, they were going to urinate on our sidewalks.”
The billboard was put up several days before a controversial ad by Nike went public, while anonymous users had started attacking the store on social media, with some of the most aggressive commentators even proposing Alexandria commit suicide over her design of the picture.
Garieri said that while designing the billboard he hadn't given any special thought to the reason why the players are kneeling. “We’re a country store, we just try to do advertising in a way that’s affordable and brings in traffic,” he said. He added that he’s not planning to remove the billboard because “it wasn’t meant to be racist, business is business." He has also received support on Twitter as the story has since gone viral, with users not understanding what was so racist about the billboard.
Great advertisement. Amazing that someone could or would want to turn a love and commitment ad into a racial issue. Someone has problems and is always looks for the an issue to complain about. https://t.co/SmbRdN4F6a— Lee Culhane (@CulhaneLee) September 8, 2018
The real bigots and intolerant are the ones threatening this man and attributing motives to him that cannot be proven.— Al Aldrich (@16nonno60) September 9, 2018
Can’t anyone get the humor anymore?— Righter Steve R! (@WillWork4Tweets) September 8, 2018
I guess some people have no sense of humor. Geeeez. https://t.co/BWxTReS7yX
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick first attracted attention in 2016 when he took a knee during the national anthem to protest racism in American society, sparking criticism from Donald Trump and senior White House officials. He was recently named the face of a Nike advertisement campaign that has triggered an uproar with people even burning their Nike apparel in protest. The ad released by Nike earlier this week showed Kaepernick’s face pictured in black and white with a giant phrase “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” simply added fuel to the fire surrounding the kneeling debate. Twitter users have responded with levity at the statement, posting their own versions of the Nike ad:
The new Nike ad campaign is truly inspirational pic.twitter.com/3nc8tVb4ru— The Office (@TheOfficePicts) 6 сентября 2018 г.
I'm all for @Kaepernick7 and fighting inequality, but @Nike is not the one to team up with in fact they contribute a whole bunch to a whole other kind of inequality. Just my 2 cents and a meme stolen from reddit. pic.twitter.com/mjuZiDLrtu— the kid (@CharleyDai) 4 сентября 2018 г.