Garieri Jewelers' billboard in Sturbridge, Mass. (Clear Channel, via Scott Garieri)© Scott Garieri/
Garieri Jewelers’ billboard in Sturbridge, Mass. (Clear Channel, through Scott Garieri)

A historic New England freeway is host to a controversial advert: a billboard depicting a younger man kneeling close to midfield.

The twist is that he’s not protesting, however proposing.

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The Garieri Jewelers commercial reads, “If you happen to’re going to take a knee this season, please have a hoop in your hand!”

It’s a reference to President Trump’s assault on the Nationwide Soccer League and its gamers who knelt throughout the anthem in protest, and one thing Massachusetts-based jeweler Scott Garieri known as a witty “play on phrases.”

“The way in which that the soccer season was, everybody had a factor about taking the knee,” he mentioned. And so, Scott Garieri and Alexandria, his daughter and retailer supervisor, got here up with what he known as a “catchy” commercial.

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Preliminary reactions to the billboard, he mentioned, have been overwhelmingly optimistic. However the temper shortly modified after one disgruntled driver pulled over on the Charlton, Mass., highway, snapped a photograph and posted it to Fb, accusing the advert of “being racist.”

The Garieris tried to defuse the firestorm of livid feedback that adopted.

“We need to promote engagement rings. We’re promoting love, not hate,” Alexandria mentioned. “We have been by no means desirous to be offensive, it was at all times meant to be satirical.”

On-line customers shortly started score the shop with one star. Feedback got here by social media platforms threatening to vomit on the jewellery showcases and urinate on the adjoining sidewalk. Then, Garieri mentioned, somebody wrote: “Alexandria why don’t you simply kill your self?”

“That’s when it began to get out of hand,” he mentioned.

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Racial justice and police brutality, the problems that impressed NFL gamers to kneel, weren’t on the thoughts of Garieri — A New England Patriots fan who calls Tom Brady “the best of all time” and Invoice Belichick “one of the best coach on the earth” — throughout the billboard design stage.

Nonetheless, as Trump criticizes Nike for a latest advert that includes former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the primary NFL participant to kneel in protest, the flip of phrase struck a nerve.

The family-owned enterprise has been in operation since 1947. Garieri, a second-generation jeweler, took over after his father’s passing in 1978.

“We’re a rustic retailer, we simply attempt to do promoting in a method that’s reasonably priced and brings in visitors,” he mentioned, including that he goals to create humor-filled billboards, that are positioned on a strip with half a dozen others. He is executed the identical prior to now.

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When Alexandria received married, Garieri Jewelers put up an advert that learn, “Joyful spouse, glad life.” The backdrop was a photograph of the couple-to-be. A 12 months in the past, one other provocative billboard pictured a diamond engagement ring beside the phrases: “Make her speechless or change.”

Final 12 months’s advert led to criticism and accusations that Garieri was sexist.

“Paradoxically, my daughter was the one who got here up with that one,” he mentioned, chuckling.

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