They knew this billboard was going to stir some controversy. SnoreStop, a company that makes anti-snoring products, is turning some heads with a huge billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. The ad depicts a U.S. soldier in full fatigues and a niqab-clad woman embracing. The woman wears nail polish and a wedding ring on her finger. The caption reads: "SnoreStop: Keeping You Together."
The billboard has garnered a range of reactions. Some people congratulated SnoreStop on the company's Facebook page, with one user saying he is "completely blown away by this" and another woman remarking that the ad is "absolutely stunning." Others had no qualms on holding back their feelings about its "offensive" and "repulsive" nature, vowing to never buy any of the company's products. One man who identified himself as both an Army veteran and a Muslim had mixed feelings about it, saying he does not approve of it in the context of Islam but also lauding the ad for its open messaging.
Others had a snarkier point of view:
Aseel Machi at the Guardian writes that the billboard is racist and in poor taste. She argues that many Muslim women in America do not even wear a niqab and that the image conjures up the atrocities perpetuated against women in Iraq and Afghanistan:
"To place a Muslim woman, who does not even represent the mainstream image of a Muslim in America, in the hands of a man who represents an institution responsible for the terror and agony of many Muslims in the world (not only in Iraq) is not simply insensitive, but disturbing."
The image was reportedly inspired by a real-life U.S. army vet, Jamie Sutton, and his Muslim wife, Aleah, according to Fox's San Diego affiliate.
According to a "behind-the-scenes" video from SnoreStop, the company sought to celebrate diversity and equality. The woman in the ad is Lexy Panterra, who says her diverse family is made up of white, Persian and black members. The man in the photo, Paul Evans, is a model and real-life soldier. He shared a story of facing discrimination while dating a black woman in his Alabama hometown, so he appreciates the messaging. "We just hope that this campaign will start people talking," chief branding officer Christian DeRivel says.
Looks like he got his wish.
The company, which bills itself as woman-owned and family-run, plans to run the billboard in other locations like San Diego, Salt Lake City and New York City.