February 10, 2014

Controversial billboard finally up near Times Square

The image of a U.S. soldier and a Muslim woman embracing is on display a few miles from Ground Zero.


A billboard that had been blocked for months from going up at Times Square is finally on view in the heart of New York City.

The giant ad for an anti-snoring throat spray shows a U.S. soldier and a Muslim woman in an embrace. His left arm is around her shoulder, while her left hand rests on his chest with a wedding band on the ring finger.

The soldier wears a camouflage uniform and a black beret. She is wearing a black niqab headdress that reveals only her eyes.

The billboard is on Broadway near West 51st Street a few blocks north of Times Square.

"As a snoring-solution company, we're in the business of keeping people together," said Melody Devemark, vice president of communications for Green Pharmaceuticals in Camarillo, Calif. "So we found the most polarized couple and thought, 'If we can keep them together, we can keep anybody together.'"

Clear Channel, the largest radio station company in the United States, had refused to let the ad be displayed on one of its billboards at Times Square.

The image went up last week on a billboard owned by United Advertising Corp., a Denver-based firm with a sales office in New York City.

The model in the ad is Paul Evans, a U.S. Army National Guard sergeant and aspiring actor.

"I am in the military to fight for this very right to express oneself in this country," Evans said. "I did this for the people who choose to be together despite the political, religious and racial prejudices that surround them."

The billboard was earlier on display in downtown Chicago and on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

The ad sparked a fierce online response, with hundreds of tweets, blogs and comments on the company's Web site that ranged from laudatory to highly critical. 



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