US soldier and Muslim wife advert causes stir

A billboard placed on a high-traffic section of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles is drawing sharp social media remarks from the public.

The ad, featuring an American soldier and a Muslim woman in loving embrace, is part of a larger marketing campaign for the product SnoreStop, a throat spray product which claims to reduce snoring.

“As a snoring solution company, we’re in the business of keeping people together,” says Melody Devemark, spokesperson and member of the family-owned Camarillo company. “So we found the most polarized couple and thought: ‘If we can keep them together, we can keep anybody together’.”

The idea was inspired from a real couple. Veteran Jamie Sutton and his Muslim wife, Aleah, are the real couple behind the billboard portrait. “We realize that it’s likely to be controversial,” Devemark says. “But our family thinks it’s a beautiful story and we feel honored to be able to share it with others.”

The billboard is already going viral. Here are some selected comments and feedback on social media:

“I’m not racist, but I feel like they’re trying to shove this ‘political correctness’ thing down our throats.”

“For some people it’s just too soon. The tragedy of 9/11 is still so fresh in people’s minds and now we’re being told we have to accept the enemy being a part of our lives and culture.”

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“I wonder if she needed a green card.”

“I guess she’s supposed to be one of them peace-loving ones?”

But the majority of comments were more accepting:

“It’s a wonderful message. It’s time we stopped labeling people because of their nationality. As for stopping snoring, I’m all for that too.”

“Would it make me try their product? I would try it on the basis that it stops my husband’s snoring! But the ad is nice.”

“All’s fair in love and war, right?”

“I hope it wakes people up, sorry, I’m not talking about the snoring, to the plight of the people in the Middle East and that the majority of them don’t want to see violence and destruction.”

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