Pizza shop sparks furious backlash over 'funny' billboard

Pizza shop sparks furious backlash over 'funny' billboard

The owner of East of Chicago Pizza in Barberton, Ohio has accidentally provoked disquiet this week with an 'offensive' slogan on a billboard ad.

Earlier this week, Jeremy Clemetson, proprietor of East of Chicago Pizza in Barberton, Ohio, posted an image of a sign advertising his pizzeria place, which featured the caption: "Fat people are harder to kidnap."

Although Clemetson has reportedly used the caption - as well as other irreverent slogans - before with no prior issues, he neglected to realize than January was Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and the post was badly received by some social media users.

Take a look at this news report on the controversy: 

In a later follow-up post, the owner shared a Fox News 8 segment on the sign, and wrote on Facebook: "We just set out to be funny but this billboard went national. It must [have] been a slow news day. Let me know your thoughts. I appreciate your business and never set out for this to be offensive to anyone."

In a later interview with Fox News on the subject of his controversial slogan, Clemetson stated: "I thought it would be a good idea to put up some funny signs. Most people seem to like them. I scour the internet for different signs that people have had. Sometimes I use them. Sometimes I reinvent my own. I also have got some of my funny signs from customers."

He added: "I never even thought about it in that way, and as soon as I thought it, because kidnapping is not a joke, we are taking it down... I have seven kids of my own. I'm from the community here. I've lived here pretty much all of my life. I live in Barberton. I have strong roots here. I never even thought about it as the kidnapping aspect. I just meant it to be funny."