When Spicer Greene Jewelers erected a billboard that read, “Sometimes, it’s ok to throw rocks at girls,” it didn’t expect that online commentators would soon be throwing (metaphorical) rocks at it.
But the message struck a chord—a negative one. Many found the ad tone-deaf and believed the tag line was making light of, or, worse, condoning violence against women, in particular, little girls.
The Asheville, N.C.–based store’s co-owner Eva-Michelle Spicer says the gripes began in a local Facebook group. They soon spread to local media. Then the issue hit national news. After Chelsea Clinton tweeted about it—“Talking about hitting girls is never funny. Ever,” wrote the former first daughter—international newspapers joined in. The store even attracted a mini protest, with 10 to 15 people picketing it over the weekend.
Spicer, however, says she never intended to offend anyone.
“Oh no,” she says. “We are in the jewelry business. We are not the first people to use that line. People took the billboard out of context. There were pretty clearly gems there.… It makes me sad that we live in a country where people are so easily offended.”
The morning she talked to JCK, Spicer says she received 108 emails about the billboard. Only two were negative; the rest were supportive. She plans to respond to each person individually.
As far as lessons from this incident, she believes that “humility always wins,” noting the store issued an apology on its Facebook page and will donate to charities that fight domestic violence. She also plans to review her advertising with more people in the future.
Spicer says she’s grateful that most industry colleagues have expressed support. Business hasn’t been hurt, and she’s trying to look on the bright side: “A lot more people have heard of Spicer Greene Jewelers now.”
Asked when the billboard is coming down, she says the jeweler will probably move up its summer campaign, but “it’s not easy” changing the message.