Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Business

November 16, 2007

LOCKPORT: American Concrete billboard stirs controversy

A business owner is standing his ground, and the women in his family are standing with him, after a YWCA of Niagara official charged his company’s advertising is gender insensitive.

Richfield Street-based American Concrete had a new billboard erected Monday on West Avenue. Over the image of a wrapped gift, the solicitous catchline, “Wife need new shoes?” is accompanied by the American Concrete logo and a greeting, “Happy Holidays.”

The humorous inference to “cement shoes” or “concrete shoes” as a method of doing away with one’s wife is at the heart of the controversy.

What company owner Kevin McCabe sees as risqué spoof, YWCA Executive Director Kathleen Granchelli condemned as ignorant.

“I’m sure it was considered to be a joke, or something cute, but with the number of fatalities we see in the domestic violence field, it’s not a joke,” Granchelli said Thursday. “It’s in very poor taste.”

No, it’s not, countered McCabe.

“I think the mainstream understands it,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that some people are reading much more into it than they should.”

The flap started Tuesday, when Granchelli and a representative of Big Brothers Big Sisters paid a visit to Mayor Michael Tucker to complain about the less-than-day-old ad near the city’s west gateway. Tucker called McCabe to alert him to the complaint, and McCabe later called Granchelli to address it.

“I told her my wife was fine with it; that my sister-in-law ... is the one who thought of it,” McCabe said. “If you know me, anyone who knows me, knows the intent was not (malicious).”

Granchelli said she knows McCabe didn’t set out to encourage violence but asked him to think about the message his billboard imparts.

“Lockport is a nice community, and this is not the first thing you want to see when you come into a nice community. ... It sends the wrong message,” she said.

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