East County News Service
March 21, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – A new billboard campaign rolled out by the Viejas Casino and Resort is drawing objections from some in the community.
Several readers have sent photos of the billboards to East County Magazine, along with critical comments. The billboards show women in reclining positions with come-hither expressions, in some cases scantily clad.
Wendy Holland called a billboard “offensive” that is located on Campo Road in Casa de Oro, where her children see it daily, along with other kids from a middle school just a couple of blocks away. The ad shows a generously endowed woman in a black bra and panties, or perhaps a bikini.
Holland believes the billboard series looks like the tribe is advertising “paid escorts” adding, “I am not some uptight, overly modest Bible thumper who thinks they know what's best for everyone, but I also believe in not advertising brothels along our freeways and in our communities.” She also finds the “objectification of women” offensive.
A male reader, who asked not to be named, sent in a photo of another Viejas billboard, this one featuring a model in a low-cut evening gown reclining on a roulette table, holding playing cards. The phrase “Ace your bets” appears in the lower right side of the billboard. So does an image that the reader suggests looks like an air-brushed phallic symbol in the pleats of the woman’s skirt. He and a third reader who saw several billboards both thought the ads were promoting prostitution services.
Another billboard in the series touted the merits of “slots,” ostensibly slot machines for gambling, though the words were imposed above a reclining woman. Yet another shows a woman in a red dress lying on a mattress strewn with rose petals.
Of course, advertisers have long used sexy-looking women to sell products, from sports cars to lingerie. While such ads may be suggestive, no one has suggested that car makers or underwear companies are hocking hooker services.
But when a hotel adjacent to a casino puts up billboards hyping sexy models sprawled in suggestive poses, the ads convey a subliminal meaning, apparently, to many passing by.
We called Viejas and left a message for the community relations manager asking for comment regarding the concerns our readers raised over the billboards. Our message was specific about the readers’ interpretations.
But several days later, no one from Viejas has returned out calls, so the question of the tribe’s intent remains unanswered. So does the question of whether the Tribal Council will respond to parents and community members concerns about the suitability of such messaging where children can view the images.