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"Necklace? Or chloroform?" Handel remembers a rape-suggesting VM ad from 2012

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On his show a few days ago, Bill Handel of Handel On the Law (4-7pm Saturdays on NewsTalk) had made a more-than-fascinating note alluding to an old legal battle between a couple and Virgin Mobile back in December 20120 that led to an online ad to be retracted. The picture was that of a man keeping one hand over his wife's eyes and another holding a small package. Above and below the image of the couple are words in white letters: "Necklace? Or chloroform?" Above the photo itself: "The gift of Christmas surprise."

Back in December 2012, people were outraged, Twitter accounts advocating anti-rape movements slammed Virgin for condoning rape (somehow), and comments went as far as customers threatening to leave the company and never come back. Sir Richard Branson (not CEO since he sold Virgin to Sprint a few years back) has responded to the outcries on Twitter saying that the ad wasn't officially approved by Virgin, but was run by the external agency, anyway. He admitted the ad to being in bad taste, saying "Virgin Mobile US usually get these things right, although on this occasion it is clear they have gone too far."

So, what was ultimately wrong with the ad? It was a married couple, not a stranger talking to a woman about chloroforming her, or her suspecting a little-known friend of that. The nature and brand of the humor was questionable, no doubt. The couple, according to Handel on his show, Handel on the Law, are currently in a lawsuit (if I understood it well) with Virgin Mobile over how the image and the ad has affected them and given them a bad reputation or whatnot. Handel said they actually do have a case for most of their claims. He doesn't think they were lied to, however.

Others have called in and asked such questions as - how does a young lady deal with a rude and overbearing boss who makes her feel uneasy at work. She wanted to accuse human resources of not treating her situation well enough. He told her to let them do as they know is right and that she only has a case if he did it at least twice - three times in some states' laws.

So, does the couple have a case? Is this ad as detrimental to their well-being as they claim? Is this as "rape-sensitive" of a joke as the media claims?


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