LOS ANGELES: Controversy over billboard ads for an upcoming film has sparked a round of free publicity for the indie feature and helped move it from an entertainment story to a political and social one.
Steve Zeller, whose GS Entertainment Marketing Group is handling PR for the film, titled A Day Without a Mexican, said the campaign was designed to be "provocative."
"The whole idea was to get people talking," he said.
Last week, a billboard atop a local drugstore carried copy that read, "On May 14th, there will be no Mexicans in California." It also sported a web address that sent users to a mock news page.
At least one shopper complained to drugstore staff that the ad was offensive, apparently mistaking it for a political comment. Zeller said a second billboard also earned complaints.
Billboard owner Viacom Outdoor was contacted and the signs were taken down and moved to other locations.
The incident sparked numerous media reports, including hits on CNN and Fox as well as local outlets. Zeller added that the interest boosted RSVPs to the feature's junket, including attendance from nonentertainment outlets. It has also fueled debate in chat rooms and on websites about immigration.
The campaign also featured Spanish-language billboards that read, "En Catorce de Mayo, Los Gringos Van a Llorar" ("On May 14, the gringos are going to cry"). No protests of those ads have been reported.
A Day Without a Mexican is a mockumentary-style feature about the social and economic fallout that occurs when people of Mexican heritage mysteriously disappear from California.