September 15, 2013

It's a publicity stunt gone wrong in Waco, Texas, with a very realistic trompe l'oiel truck decal of a woman bound and gagged and lying in fetal position in the back of a pickup truck. Brad Kolb, owner of Hornet Signs, the company who made it, said it was just a test to see how realistic their stickers were in order to drum up new business.

Quite realistic, it seems - enough to alarm people who saw it and call the police. So their test worked, but I find their choice of images a bit odd - a woman tied up and thrown in the back of a pick-up? The mind boggles.

The company has since removed the only decal it made and burned it, but only after Kolb felt compelled to conduct a poll asking whether the decal should be left on the truck, removed or auctioned on eBay, with the proceeds going to the charity. Seems there was enough negative backlash on social media to the decal as well as the idea of convincing other people to come up with the cash for charity that Kolb decided to cut his losses and donated $2,500 of his own money to the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children, and even posted phones numbers of local and national groups that help abuse victims on his company website. Which is nice, I suppose.

That said, it does seem the onerous publicity stunt actually worked - Kolb claims that the test was hugely popular as orders for tailgate decals have shot up, although some customers are apparently quite disappointed that this particular image has been discontinued.

But why a bound woman in the first place? If you wanted something a bit edgy to catch the eye of passersby, why not a dog with puppies? Surely someone would look twice if they thought a little puppy might fall off the back? Why not a herd of longhorn cows about to leap out at the viewer? Why not a pile of bricks with one teetering on the edge? Why not something more amusing, like a conga-line of dancing armadillos? Why on earth would one of Kolb's female employees volunteer to be the model for this stunt? How does it even occur to anyone to come up with an image that violent and sexist and downright creepy?

I guess it's a stupid question, this is Texas, after all. Poor Texas.

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