Labs To Go, a paternity testing laboratory in Virginia Beach, has come under fire for its use of a couple of controversial billboards that they claim were just intended to be funny. People didn’t see them that way, though, and it’s easy to see why.
The billboard that got the most attention in the media is located off Armistead Ave. near Downtown Hampton, and shows a male U.S. soldier standing next to a smiling postman, with the catchphrase “Who’s the Daddy” taking up most of the advertising space. While the fact that they chose an African-American man as the postman and a Caucasian soldier makes the joke extremely obvious, that didn’t prevent folks from expressing their disapproval of the advert.
The second Labs To Go Billboard is on display in Norfolk, and shows a blonde woman with a Pinocchio-like nose next to the catchphrase “Is the Mother a Liar?” and phone number of the paternity testing lab. This one didn’t sit too well with the local community either.
Photo: News 3
“I’m offended as a woman that this is something that is being put on billboards,” said Erin McMenamin, a Norfolk resident who has been a military wife for the last 15 years. “They just send a message that men should be worry about what their wives are doing while they are gone.”
She wasn’t the only one to argue that, despite their humorous tone, the billboards are sending the wrong message to children and husbands, but Labs To Go has defended their ad campaign, saying that they were only meant to be funny.
“It was absolutely not to offend anyone,” Labs To Go president, Cheree Owens told News 3. “It was to spark humor, and it only may offend someone who may fit in that category.”
Photo: News 3
Now I was inclined to believe that this was all done in good spirit, to give people a good laugh and maybe get some new customers in the process, but then Owens admitted that she deliberately chose to feature a man in uniform on the billboard because she was inspired by “reality”.
“It’s reality,” she said. “This is something that I see in my office every day. A lot of military are coming in [and] having paternity tests because they were gone.”
So which one is it, a joke, or reality? Or both?
Anyway, Labs To Go admits that they did receive a few phone calls from members of the community complaining about their advertising billboards, but mostly it was business as usual, with most callers simply inquiring about the paternity tests.
Despite the controversy they have caused around Hampton Roads, Cheree Owens has made it very clear that she does not intend to take the billboards down.