North Dakota's tourism director said she was surprised by the negative reaction to an ad promoting tourism in her state, which one critic called "sickening."
"It wasn't my favorite ad. I thought, 'Oh, this is a little cheesy.' I certainly didn't think it was over the line, or seductive, or in any way in poor taste," Sara Otte Coleman, director of North Dakota's tourism division, told the Associated Press. "It really just takes one or two [negative comments], and then people jump on the bandwagon."
The print ad, which was intended to highlight North Dakota's nightlife, shows two men and three women flirting through a window of a downtown motel bar with the words: "Drinks, dinner, decisions. Arrive a guest. Leave a legend."
The ad is part of a group of 10 ads the tourism group posted on its Facebook page to solicit opinions about them, the AP reported, but because of dozens of complaints about it, the ad was yanked Thursday. The other ads use the same slogan in photos of people playing golf, shopping, hiking and participating in other picturesque activities in North Dakota.
One commenter called the nightlife ad "sickening," while others complained of the racy nature of the individual ad.
The ad was also removed from a digital version of the state tourism division's visitors' guide for 2012.
Pat Finken, president of Odney Advertising, the agency that created the ad, was also surprised by the negative reaction and told the AP it was meant to be "a little flirty, a little fun."
One of the models in the ad, Katherine Paynter, 24, said the five young people know each other well. Paynter is a resident of Fargo and stands in the middle of the three women in the ad.
One of the men in the ad is her boyfriend, Gavin Rehder, 27, of Fargo, who is shown seated at a bar table holding a half-empty glass of beer.
"When they posted it on Facebook for the public to view, I thought nothing of it, nothing at all," Paynter told the AP. "They're trying to get a certain age group to look into the nightlife in North Dakota. … It wasn't supposed to be some sleazy, racy photo."