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Advertising Expert: "This is one way to get noticed"

11:02 PM, Jan 8, 2013   |    comments
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West Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- An advertising and public relations expert sounds off on the Taco Cid t-shirt controversy. 

"I think in general this is one way to get noticed. The question is, 'Is this what you want to be noticed for,'" said USC Professor Jeffrey Ranta with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Taco Cid in West Columbia was just another local business until a reporter tweeted out a picture of the T-shirts that employees were wearing.

The t-shirt features the words, "How to catch an illegal immigrant". Accompanying the words is a drawing of a box with a stick being held over two tacos--a makeshift trap. 

"You can get known for good customer service, you can get known for good bargains, you can get known for good value," Ranta said. "Being known as being offensive is probably not what you want to be known as."

Ranta has over 15 years of experience in public relations and advertising.  He says although it's not something he would recommend to a client, the T-shirt is a conversation piece.

"In some cases this would be a really great hit for a Facebook page," Ranta said. "But on the national platform or on a mass media appeal, this isn't neccesarily the way you want to go. You run the risk of really offending some people and getting some unwanted attention."

The owner, Leanne Snelgrove, says shirts have been selling and business has been booming, CNN and The Huffington Post have been calling.  Snelgrove has gotten some other calls too.

"We've received death threats, we've received bomb threats," she said.

Ranta said this type of publicity has the opportunity to backfire on the business.

"There's a lot more dynamics than just what image you put out," Ranta said. "I don't know if a T-shirt is going to derail an entire small business but it is definitely starting some dialogue."

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