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April 25, 2015

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No laughing matter: Liquor store chain removing controversial billboard


Christopher DeVargas

A Lee’s Discount Liquor billboard is seen near the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Decatur Boulevard on Friday, June 14, 2013.

Lee's Discount Liquor is in the process of taking down a controversial billboard.

The billboard, near Tropicana Avenue and Decatur Boulevard, read, "Alcohol: It's cheaper than therapy." It rubbed some people the wrong way and sparked a petition.

The petition scolded the owners of the local liquor store chain for being insensitive to victims of alcohol misuse.

"With all the alcohol problems Las Vegas residents and others have, the billboard encouraging alcohol consumption versus seeking therapy is a socially irresponsible message to model to everyone," said the petition.

In an email, owner Kenny Lee said that he was aware of the complaints and that the advertisement and two other billboards were in the process of being replaced.

"I thought they were funny and goes well with our television commercials, but didn't realize the people it would affect," wrote Lee, whose commercials often include humorous skits and celebrity guests such as NFL legend Mike Ditka.

Public relations consultant Ira Sternberg said he did a double take when he saw the billboard on his drive home.

"If anyone else was saying it or if it was coming from a third party like a comedian, it would have been funny, but it's coming from a retail establishment and direct merchandiser," Sternberg said.

Lee added that Hae Un Lee, his father and the founder of Lee's, didn't find the billboard funny either.

"Trust me, I heard an earful from my dad," Lee wrote.

Sternberg, who likened the billboard to a casino advertisement claiming, "Gambling: It's cheaper than therapy," had some advice for the Lees before they put up another billboard.

"Consult a public relations consultant first," Sternberg said.

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  1. Indeed it is in poor taste to exploit an insensitive situation for ones own profit, Ira Sternberg!

    Lee's say they're removing the billboard and are apologizing. Fine. But why on earth do we have some random guy jumping into the fray here simply to advertise his own business? If he would have done this in the comments section here, the Moderators would have blocked the post as SPAM.

  2. "The petition scolded the owners of the local liquor store chain for being insensitive to victims of alcohol misuse."

    Besides the billboard being truthful, it's doubtful there are any "victims of alcohol misuse." No one becomes a victim against his will unless being coerced or forced. Blame the therapists -- then we're back to alcohol being cheaper than therapy.

    "I love and treasure individuals as I meet them, I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to." -- the late, great George Carlin from "Ready or Not, Here Comes Another Book"

  3. It offended the self-medicating Liberals.

  4. @KillerB wrote "it's doubtful there are any "victims of alcohol misuse." No one becomes a victim against his will unless being coerced or forced"

    So, someone gets plastered in a local bar (an obvious misuse of alcohol), drives down Rainbow, smashes into a group of kids - maiming most, killing others... The kids were not coerced or forced, but they just decided to become victims of their own volition?

    What about spouses, kids, relatives, co-workers, businesses that have all been affected by someone on a bender? Kids and other adults getting beat up by a drunk spouse, father, mother, or relative Happens all the time.

    I'm not sure where you got your reasoning for your statement.

  5. What choice given here: using alcohol to try and escape from your own weaknesses or seeing a modern day "Witch Doctor" who will do you no earthly good. Man up and stay away from both!

  6. It's a joke. Get over it.

  7. Less painful than therapy, too.

  8. I guess we won't be seeing many funny ads from the pharmaceutical industry..

  9. "I'm not sure where you got your reasoning for your statement."

    Test_Guy -- from the article. Commons sense dictates neither Lee's nor any other merchant are liable for how any customer uses their products. Some people just can't handle their freedoms. And everybody tries to blame everybody else when they get caught.

    "I think everyone should treat one another in a Christian manner. I will not, however, be responsible for the consequences." -- the late George Carlin from Saturday Night Live's premiere

  10. Thin skins taking things personally.

  11. "A socially irresponsible message" ... because the medication one can buy at a liquor store is somehow less socially acceptable than the little mood-enhancing pills Americans are being fed.

    Interesting, and lacking a sense of humor.

  12. Got the humor on my first glance of LEE's Liquor sign. We are in LAS VEGAS, afterall. Because we live in a world that is full of litigous, ready to sue at the drop of a hat, or sue over anything construed as not being politically correct, it would have been in the best interest of LEE's Liquor to maybe fly it on Facebook to check for reactions, as well as a trusted third party/public relations firm.

    We live in a world where exists extremes on each side. Those who are 'middle of the road' may not have much of a reaction to the sign, whereas the polar extremes will. Those who are offended, could take the opportunity to either ignore it, or make it a "teachable moment" explaining to young ones the consequences of excessive imbibing or abuse of substances (no matter what they are). In other words, deal with it. The world is full of things that can rub us the wrong way, and it serves us well to know how to cope, because we sure ain't going to be able to insulate ourselves from all that is in the world.


  13. This is much ado about nothing, go pick on all the billboards that are in spanish if ya want to complain about something. I find them more offensive than Lees Liqour store.