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Tennessee apologies over ‘sexist’ anti-DUI bar campaign

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Tennessee's anti-DUI campaign has backfired. (iStock)

The Highway Safety Office of Tennessee has apologized over a controversial anti-DUI campaign that included slogans which told men not to drink with a "marginally good-looking girl" that was "clingy" and then later drive.

The public service announcement sparked anger from bar owners and many on social media who called it "sexist" and "inappropriate."

Over the weekend, coasters and fliers with slogans for the ad campaign started appearing in bars around Nashville. 

One read: “After a few drinks the girls look hotter and the music sounds better. Just remember: If your judgement is impaired, so is your driving.” 

Another coaster said: “Buy a drink for a marginally good-looking girl, only to find out she's chatty, clingy, and your boss's daughter.”

The ads were quickly picked up by concerned members of the community.

“What is a young lady coming in going to think about that?” Frank Hall, General Manager of Gold Rush on Elliston Place in Nashville, told WKRN-TV. He chose not to display them in his restaurant.

State lawmakers blasted the campaign for its misguided effort, which was reportedly funded by federal dollars at a cost $77,096.  No state funds were used.

"I believe this is an inappropriate campaign that distracts from the real message: communicating to young people that they should not drink and drive," Speaker Beth Harwell, (R-Nashville), said in a statement submitted by a spokeswoman to The Tennessean.

Others did not hold back. "It is not only offensive, but it is also inexcusable and a waste of taxpayer dollars," Rep. John Ray Clemmons, (D-Nashville), wrote in a statement. "Frankly, I am furious."

On Tuesday afternoon the High Safety Office decided to suspend the campaign and began removing coasters and fliers from Tennessee bars.

"The Governor's Highway Safety Office would like to apologize for any offense caused by the 100 Days of Summer Heat Booze It and Lose It Campaign," Director Kendell Poole responded in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “The marketing is often edgy and designed to grab the attention of the young male demographic. It was never the intent of the GHSO to be insensitive or insulting to women."