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Akoo Jeans Billboard Deemed Sexually Suggestive, Pulled In Newark

DAVID PORTER   03/ 1/10 07:50 PM ET   AP

Akoo Jeans Billboard

NEWARK, N.J. — Like the pair of jeans it depicts, a billboard poster in downtown Newark is coming down.

The ad for Akoo jeans shows a woman kneeling in front of a man and facing the camera. The man's jeans are unbuckled, and the woman appears to be pulling them off.

The billboard, which hovers over a busy intersection, sparked criticism after a local columnist questioned its taste.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for CBS Outdoor, the company that owns the billboard, said the ad will be taken down, though she did not specify a date. In a statement, the company acknowledged it had responded to feedback from Newark residents.

An e-mailed request for comment from Akoo Clothing was not answered Monday.

Some decried the billboard's use of an image of a black woman in a sexually suggestive pose in a city that is predominantly black.

Mayor Cory A. Booker downplayed the racial angle and instead framed it as part of a general decline in standards.

"It's an issue of what are community standards and why are we consistently condoning language, images and other things that erode those standards," he said. "This billboard is not the only thing that we should be concerned with. It's a symptom of a deeper problem that we have to confront within our communities."

Billboards have caused controversy in Newark before.

In early 2007, after a year in which 106 homicides were committed in the city, the Newark Teachers Union paid for several billboards that screamed: "HELP WANTED: Stop the killings in Newark now!"

The group was criticized for furthering negative perceptions of the city, and a rival organization put up billboards charging the union with "protecting bad teachers" and "failing our kids."

The billboards were taken down two years ago when the homicide rate declined more than 40 percent. Yet Newark still struggles with its image, not to mention an unemployment rate that topped 13 percent last summer.

"We need nothing that isn't going to reinforce positive images for the young ladies of the community," City Councilman Oscar S. James II said Monday. "We don't need that type of imagery for any women, of any color."

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Filed by David Weiner  |