Georgia State Alumni Association Receives Backlash For ‘Supporting Heroes: Law Enforcement’ Billboard

Photo from Jazmin Mejia's Twitter account

The Georgia State Alumni Association was criticized on Twitter for a billboard it displayed in Alpharetta, thanking police. It was part of a wider marketing campaign thanking frontline workers.

“Look what I stumbled across in Alpharetta. I expect more from our alumni,” Jazmin Mejia, former university-wide president and Georgia State alumna tweeted on June 6.

She posted an image of a billboard with the Georgia State Alumni logo that said, “Supporting Heroes: Law Enforcement.” 

Ermani Monet, the president of the Alumni Association, said in a tweet that “… The intentions were not to say Alumni stand with law enforcement during these times of injustices.”

According to the association, the campaign began in mid-March following the start of the pandemic. But, many students on Twitter were insulted that the billboard was still displayed in June, given the situation.

“This is the biggest slap in the face to every last Black student enrolled and degreed,” tweeted Georgia State student Kayla Johnson.

Some speculated that the law enforcement billboard was intentionally placed in Alpharetta, where the Georgia State Alumni “knew their audience.” According to the World Population Review, Alpharetta’s population is 63.74% white.

The Georgia State Alumni Association denied this claim on Twitter. The association explained that the billboard was one of eight in the campaign. The counties chosen to run the billboards are the top four counties with Georgia State alumni, according to the association. 

“There are eight ads that went up in the middle of March to thank frontline workers during the pandemic,” the association tweeted. “The particular message you chose to feature is one of them, and this particular campaign ends [June 7] and was not put up with ill intent.”

This response was criticized by some, including Daniel Varitek, The Signal’s former editor-in-chief and Georgia State alumnus. He agreed that the association should have taken the billboard down.

“The two big goals of marketing are to grow brand affinity and acquire new customers,” Varitek said. “Thing is, a mindful marketer stays up-to-date on the latest news cycle and ensures their brand messaging can’t be misunderstood or misconstrued. [Georgia State]’s marketers failed to do that here [and also] made excuses for themselves. Never good.”

Varitek said that it would be a matter of hours for the agency that set up the billboards, Outfront Media, to take down the signs. However, Outfront removed the signs on June 7, the regularly scheduled end of the campaign.