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The BBC's David Willis
"Lifeguards have received a string of complaints"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 July, 2000, 00:06 GMT 01:06 UK
Jaws ad frightens bathers
The posters are stopping bathers dipping their toes in the water
The posters are stopping bathers dipping their toes in the water
What was supposed to be a humorous advertising campaign for a new video release of the film Jaws has backfired in California.

More than 400 posters showing the famous great white shark have been put up along the Los Angeles beach front.

But the decision to advertise a shark film along a 27-mile stretch of beach, has provoked a storm of protest from tourists and local home owners.

One visitor said his child took one look at the poster and became hysterical, and some non-English speakers have apparently misinterpreted the posters as a warning about hungry sea life.


Maybe we should have realised that everybody isn't familiar with the movie

Kerry Gottleib, LA Beach and Harbours dept.

Universal Pictures described it as a "tongue in cheek" way of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the film and promoting its release on video and DVD.

But the stunt may have a shorter life than the swimmers attacked by Jaws in the film.

Life guards have received a string of complaints from tourists who say the sight of those razor sharp teeth is highly off putting as they are preparing to take a dip in the surf.

Now the Beach and Harbours department is considering removing the ads.

Misjudged

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Department chief deputy Kerry Gottlieb, admitted that the campaign was misjudged.

"Maybe we should have realised that everybody isn't familiar with the movie," she said.

"In my mind, it was fiction. It certainly didn't enter my mind that it would put fear in people - I would never want that to happen," she added.


It's like having Airport '75 posters at the airport

John Haigh, tourist

Ken Graffeo, vice-president of Universal Studios Home Video marketing, told the Los Angeles Times website that placing the posters on the beach was a small part of a national campaign.

"All we were looking for was where could we reach the greatest number of eyeballs. We were trying to think outside the box," he said.

Alarm

But the LA Times found that residents and tourists alike actually find the ads, some of which are reportedly displayed close to official beach warning signs, alarming.

Australian tourist John Haigh, said the posters were in bad taste and would "scare people off the beaches".

The campaign was, he said, "like having [posters of the film] 'Airport '75' at the airport".

But while authorities in California have received plenty of queries from anxious beach users, they have been quick to point out that there have been no known shark attacks off Los Angeles for more than 20 years.

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