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Restaurant pulls cult-referencing ads

Feb. 22, 2011 at 3:20 PM

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- An Indiana restaurant chain said it is pulling billboard ads making humorous reference to an infamous cult's mass suicide in 1978.

Officials with South Bend-based Hacienda said the ads, which referenced the suicide cult led by Jim Jones in Guyana, are being removed from billboards after a number of residents complained the reference was in bad taste, The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune reported Tuesday.

"Our role is not to be controversial or even edgy. We want to be noticed -- and there's a difference," said Jeff Leslie, vice president of sales and marketing at Hacienda. "We have a responsibility to (advertise) with care, and that's why we're pulling this ad. We made a mistake and don't want to have a negative image in the community."

"You start playing with headlines," Leslie said of the campaign's inception, "and that's how we ended up with the outdoor board. But we are not getting the reaction we expected. It went the wrong direction, hit a nerve, and we have come to realize we should not have done this billboard. We lose the core message."

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