Jeweler Speaks Out on “Rocks” Billboard

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.

JCK News Director

8 responses to “Jeweler Speaks Out on “Rocks” Billboard”

  1. I think when most people are driving past and giving only a cursory glance the drawings of gemstones really don’t come across very well, if at all. The focus of the eye goes to the bold words first and because of that the context of the ad is lost. The ad becomes simply bland and in poor taste, or worse, for many. Perhaps if it was more specific and said diamonds instead of rocks might’ve helped.

    • Hi, L.A. If you click on “JCK,” above the comment box on this and other posts, you can see them. (That’s what I’ve been doing.) I just asked; we don’t have a formal E.T.A. on bringing back the “recent comments” feature. But I’ll keep asking. As I said, I liked it too.

  2. Totally inappropriate. Although I understand how different it is for the north american public to see through the eyes of the rest of the world and could think there is some sense of humor on it, it is a passive aggressive add by comparison and only makes fun about the cruel reality of many other women. Like the ones that get the real rocks as punishment in other countries, the ones that will never get or can afford a gem and the ones that get thrown so many other things or even words on a daily basis. The jewelry industry is beautiful by default. You guys can do better.

  3. Years ago someone told me an advertisement for a niche retailer shouldn’t be judged by the eyeballs or clicks it gets, or even the attention grabbing aspects of the ad. It should be judged on how well it reaches a brand’s core customers and how well it reaches a brand’s potential customers. This ad seems to have succeeded in reaching (and offending) a lot of non-potential customers. I’m sorry Spicer-Greene had to deal with the negativity of being the (fairly innocuous) bad-guy of the advertising moment. I’m glad Spicer-Greene is doing well enough to donate to charity (I’d be interested in learning if those offended by Spicer-Greene have given as much). Personally, I suspect anyone who sees the billboard as an imperative command to physically assault women is probably already so inclined.

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