'Fat people are harder to kidnap': Billboard owned by pizza shop in Barberton causes controversy

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BARBERTON, Ohio (WJW) - Jeremy Clemetson has owned his East of Chicago Pizza restaurant for 14 years after having been affiliated with the chain since 1995.

Over the last year, he has started weaving humor into his outdoor advertising.

Some of the slogans he has used included: "Now Hiring, Must Show Up", "If it's not there in 30 minutes, move closer", "Free Box with Every Pizza", "Our Deep Dish Pizza is as big as a pothole", and "Tammy, you need to show up to work," after one of his dedicated employees with a sense of humor took extended medical leave.

"I scour the internet for different signs that people had. Sometimes I use them and sometimes I re-invent my own," said Clemetson.

He said the response has been tremendously positive.

Among his newest signs, "Fat people are harder to kidnap," which is a slogan that has been used for years on popular t-shirts  sold on the internet, used as the name of a Facebook page and also used by a large motel chain to advertise its buffet.

"I discussed the sign with a few people and everyone thought it was funny, so I threw it up on our front sign and no one said anything," said Clemetson.

The sign spent weeks on his Facebook page without any negative comments.

But Clemetson said he took it down from in front of his store after corporate headquarters received a complaint.

The same email was sent to Fox 8 objecting to the sign as "rude" and suggesting that the reference to kidnapping is in poor taste considering January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, in addition to mocking people who are fat.

"I have seven kids of my own, I am from the community here, I've lived here pretty much all of my life. I live in Barberton. I have strong roots here. I never even thought about it as the kidnapping aspect, I just meant it to be funny," said Clemetson.

Most people Fox 8 spoke with as they were seeing the billboard on Monday thought it was funny and had no objection but some understood how it could seem offensive.

"I never even thought about it in that way, kidnapping is not a joke, we are taking it down. But there are still going to be more funny signs up here and more funny signs around the community, and if anyone has any comments, my door is always open," said Clemetson.

He said the billboard will come down in the next couple of days.

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