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Controversy-sparking billboard’s back

Formerly vandalized tanning salon ad reappears in Auburn
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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A California Sun billboard that was vandalized and taken down June 10 is back up in Auburn. The tanning salon’s ad, which features a bikini-clad model at Folsom Lake, was at the center of controversy last month when unidentified persons covered it with a black tarp that said, “NO PORN IN OUR TOWN.” Some locals say they find the ad provocative, while others are supportive of it. The billboard, located just past Bell Road and Highway 49, was replaced with an animal shelter advertisement later that day. California Sun owner Michael Blore said that CBS Outdoor, which owns the billboard space, violated its contract in removing the ad. After meeting with CBS, Blore said they agreed to put it back up about week ago. “I think that they recognized they acted a little bit too quickly,” Blore said. “That empowers a group every time they don’t like something to put a black tarp over it.” California Sun received thousands of responses from people, mostly in support of the company’s marketing strategy, according to Blore. “Ninety-nine percent of them couldn’t believe the attention it was getting,” Blore said. “For every one negative response there were 1,000 positive.” Blore said that while the controversy provoked by the image didn’t boost business, it did cause customers they don’t normally hear from to express their support of the company. “It made us more brand aware,” Blore said. “We advertise for obvious reasons. We don’t do it to get bad press. We are about having a really classy organization.” Judy Ziegler, of Lake of the Pines, said she didn’t think the California Sun billboard fit in with Auburn’s culture. “Personally, I think it’s inappropriate,” Ziegler said. “I don’t classify it as porn. It just gives a bad image for the town. Maybe in Santa Cruz it would be OK. For the town of Auburn, it just doesn’t go with our mining history. We are a historic town.” Carol (Bunny) Isaacson, who owns Depoe Bay Coffee, said while she isn’t offended by the image, it does show something about society as a whole. “I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it personally. Maybe the bikini is a little small. They are advertizing what they do,” Isaacson said. “I think maybe it shows how our society has become though. Everything gets pushed a little further and a little further, and we accept a little more. We’ve been desensitized.” Isaacson said she has noticed that as racier images become more common on TV and in advertisement, kids seem to be growing up more quickly when it comes to sex. According to Blore, California Sun picked a more conservative bathing suit when designing their summer ad. Going into the fall campaign, Blore said he is more cognizant of how some people in Auburn feel and is keeping that in mind. Blore said California Sun may make some changes, like putting the model in clothes instead of a bikini, but still needs to represent what it sells — tan skin. “We’ll rethink what we do. At the end of the day we are a tanning salon. We can’t out a girl in a parka,” Blore said. “We want to make sure we don’t push the envelope too much. We also have to show that we do listen.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.