When Scott Garieri designed the latest billboard advertisement for his jewelry store, he thought of it as satire, a “play on words.” At first, feedback was positive with people enjoying the humor. When someone took a picture and posted it to Facebook, things turned ugly. The Washington Post reports that someone even suggested that his daughter, Alexandria, who works as the manager of Garieri Jewelers in Charlton, Massachusetts, commit suicide.
Scott Garieri said that he and his daughter came up with the idea for the billboard design together. It features an image of a man down on one knee, proposing to his girlfriend. They are positioned near the 50-yard-line of a football field. Next to them are the words “If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!”
The Facebook post that began the backlash to the billboard includes a charge of racism. People responded to the post in anger, affirming the charges. They took to sites where they could leave reviews on the jewelry store and left one-star reviews. Some of the social media comments included statements by people who said they were going to vomit on the store’s displays or urinate on the pavement in front of the store. Scott Garieri said one even said, “Alexandria, why don’t you just kill yourself?”
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Scott Garieri said he wasn’t thinking about police brutality or racial injustice when they came up with the design. They were just trying to come up with something catchy, and everyone was talking about NFL players taking a knee. Alexandria said they never intended anything negative.
“We want to sell engagement rings. We’re selling love, not hate. We were never wanting to be offensive, it was always meant to be satirical.”
Scott Garieri took over operations of the family-owned jewelry store after his father died in 1978. The store opened in 1947. He said Garieri Jewelers is a country store that tries to advertise as inexpensively as possible and with some humor. This is not the first time the public has reacted to a Garieri Jewelers advertisement in a negative manner. About a year ago, they displayed a billboard that featured a large image of a diamond ring with the words “Make her speechless or change” next to it. People accused Scott Garieri of sexism for the ad. He said that Alexandria was the one who came up with the idea for that ad.