In hopes of promoting the vehicle-wrap segment of his business, Brad Kolb, the owner of Waco, TX-based Hornet Signs used employees’ vehicles to test the realism of the shop’s wraps. He said the shop had been producing wraps for approximately three years, and represented a growth market. They decided to adorn the tailgate of three shop trucks with realistic images.
Kolb and his employees deliberated the subject matter to use, and they finally decided on three different images: a sniper, a zombie and – the last choice would prove fateful – a kidnapped woman.
‘The blonde character is based on one of our employees,” he said. “When we asked her how the figure should be based, she suggested having it tied up and volunteered to assume that position. It was intended as a marketing experiment, and we certainly didn’t intend to convey a message of condoning violence against women.”
Yet, Kolb became a victim of his lifelike designs – and the center of an unintended controversy. Over the course of roughly three weeks, response grew from local TV stations, calling to verify whether the figures were real, into a full-fledged media feeding frenzy. Media outlets from USA Today to ABC News to the Huffington Post have condemned Kolb and Hornet Signs.
In the face of such universal rebuke, rather than running for cover or cutting off media contact, Kolb did the honorable thing and decided to provide assistance and raise awareness about the epidemic of violence against women.
“After the publicity, the [Waco, TX-based] Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children contacted me and provided information about how epidemic violence against women is,” Kolb said. “Their data shows that one in 4 women will be exposed to domestic violence, and three million children a year will witness some sort of abuse in their home. It was shocking.”Advertisement
He continued, “The most compelling moment for me was when a woman came into my office, in tears, and told me that her daughter, who looked like the character depicted in the wrap, had been kidnapped and killed. It broke my heart.”
He immediately destroyed the wrap and donated an undisclosed amount to the Advocacy Center, and pledged to help raise an additional $50,000. However, this initiative seemingly stoked the ire of those offended by the wrap.
“I apologize and asked them to help me assist an organization dedicated to stopping violence against women, but they just kept expressing their anger,” Kolb said. “We screwed up, and I understand why people were upset, but some just couldn’t get past rage. After things quieted down a bit, some more levelheaded people contacted us and expressed support.”
As usual, such an event brought out the worst in some. Kolb said one person took a picture of his wife, used Photoshop to put duct tape on her mouth and a black eye on her face, and sent the doctored image back to him.
Hornet Signs produced the wrap on 3M™ Controltac™ IJ180Cv3-10 air-release media and laminated it with a Seal Ultra 62 laminator.
To find our more about how to help women and children who are victims of abuse, contact the Advocacy Center at (254) 752-9330, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.Advertisement
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