A defamatory ad placed in Maxim magazine by a Texas-based law firm has drawn sharp criticism from trucking, and prompted a significant response from the publisher.
The full page ad running in the June issue depicts a threatening frontal picture of a truck under the headline, "Serial Killers." Below the picture, the ad copy reads, “3,561 people died on America’s highways last year. Another 2.36 million were injured." It continues, "You need a law firm you can Trust. You need Experience. You need Strength. You need Villarreal & Begum," etc.
It didn't take long for the ad to make the rounds on various trucking social media sites, generating a torrent on comments. The American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Associations, OOIDA and others launched social media campaigns urging Maxim magazine to apologize and withdraw the ad.
Several truck stop retailers pulled copies of the June issue from their shelves.
TCA issued a statement to members saying, "The editors and staff of Maxim need to know that we are their family members, their neighbors and their friends. When we are on the road, we look out for them as we would our own children, and we will not let this mischaracterization go unanswered."
ATA president and CEO Bill Graves wrote to maxim, stressing the industry's disappointment with the serial killer depiction, saying "Every fatality on our nation’s highways is a tragedy, and we all have an obligation to improve highway safety, but our professionals that serve America are certainly not serial killers."
Late Thursday afternoon, both Maxim and the law firm issued apologies. Gretchen Tibbits, vice president at Maxim, told TCA she will be removing the ad from the digital version of the magazine today and providing a full-page ad space in the July/August issue to promote the positive side of the trucking industry. The law firm said they would no longer use the ad.