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A North Carolina jewelry store is under fire after putting up a billboard that some people say promotes violence.
The ad, seen in Asheville, North Carolina and shared widely on social media, states that "sometimes, it's OK to throw rocks at girls." It features photos of jewels and the Spicer Greene Jewelers logo alongside the slogan.
Critics of the campaign protested outside of the family-owned jewelry store in Asheville on Sunday, carrying signs that said "kids see billboards" and "violent words lead to violence," among others.
Outrage grew on social media as the photo was shared.
"Is this supposed to be humorous because you think violence against women is funny?" one woman wrote on Twitter. "Do better. Be better."
The store apologized for the ad in a statement posted on Facebook.
"To whom we have offended with our recent billboard, please accept our apologies," the company wrote. "We do not condone violence of any kind toward any being. We are humble enough to realize when we make a mistake and humble enough to realize the context in which we are speaking. We did not intend to cause controversy and our billboard communicated something we did not intend. We intended the billboard as a play on words to encourage the loving act of gift giving and are deeply saddened that it offended anyone."
Reached by TODAY, co-owner Eva-Michelle Spicer said that while the billboard is still up, the company is working to get its summer campaign ready sooner so that it can be replaced.
"We've said all we're going to say," she said. "We're really sorry to have offended anyone."
Not everyone saw a problem with the billboard — many fans of the jeweler shared their support for it on Facebook.
"Personally as a woman, I do not find the billboard offensive," one woman wrote. "I thought it was a cute marketing slogan. People have just gotten (too) PC for their own good and have lost their sense of humor."
"It's shameful that you have to apologize for being witty in your advertising," another wrote.
And yet another clever commenter shared his idea for an improved ad: "A better tagline for your billboard: Tell her she is a GEM and then give her one."