Ad raises concerns among shoppers about foul language

Ad at Rue 21 store at Orange Park Mall turning heads

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Sale ads for an Orange Park-area store have ignited a discussion about the use of foul language in display advertising.

Several viewers told News4Jax that they were offended by an ad for Rue 21, a national young adult clothing chain with a store in the Orange Park Mall.

The signs, which include a play on characters and use double dollar signs instead of the letter  S to advertise a “bad” sale, stopped shoppers in their tracks Tuesday.

"I wouldn't put that up there,” one shopper said. “Kids can come by and read it.”

But other shoppers said they weren't bothered by the sign.

"I think people are just too opinionated these days,” another shopper said.

Another said she hadn't noticed the sign, and she visits the mall regularly.

While some laughed it off as an interesting marketing technique, others said the language is obvious and inappropriate for any store inside a public mall.

"If your kid walks by here and they cuss, that's cussing, so I'd say no,” one shopper said. “That still says a**. Sorry."

Either way, it's grabbing the attention of many shoppers in Orange Park.

The company's Twitter page has been flooded with comments about the new signs, which have gone up at stores in multiple states. Some approve of the ads, but others voiced their concerns to the company, which responded with the same tweet each time:

"We certainly never meant to be offensive and we do apologize. Thanks so much for the feedback!"


The company's associate general counsel, Benjamin Gross, released a statement Tuesday about the ad campaign:

Our Bad A$$ signs are creating quite the buzz. No doubt about it, rue21 is a Bad A$$ company that delivers fun, fresh and edgy fashion to millions of customers via ecommerce and our 1,200 stores throughout this great nation. But for the record, the phrase “bad ass” means an uncompromising person, which describes our corporate culture and our customers to a T. We are uncompromising in value, uncompromising in fashion and uncompromising in fun. And on a legal note, the phrase may be slang, but it is not profane or indecent; the Federal Government, which does not register indecent or obscene trademarks, has approved dozens of Big Ass and Bad Ass trademarks, including Big Ass Fans and Bad Ass Coffee Company.