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New billboard replaces ‘Real men’ message with ‘Much ado about nothing’

In an apparent rebuttal of criticism of a previous sign, a new billboard has taken its place near Winston-Salem.
In an apparent rebuttal of criticism of a previous sign, a new billboard has taken its place near Winston-Salem. The Winston-Salem Journal

A billboard between Winston-Salem and Greensboro sparked controversy and money raising efforts for billboards to counter it. But now it’s been replaced by another message that likely won’t be any more popular.

The “Real men provide. Real women appreciate it.” billboard on Interstate 40 Business West drew criticism for a message some called sexist, misogynistic and anti gender equality.

A new billboard message has replaced it now that reads: “Much Ado About Nothing. A social experiment that brought forth those so immersed in their own insecurity that in the mirror they could only see an angry victim of their incorrect interpretation of a silly billboard – Bless their hearts.”

A GoFundMe campaign “Help Us Send a Counter Message” was set up last week to raise money to pay for a billboard in the Triangle that would say “Gender equality benefits everyone.” As of Sunday, it had raised $5,281 toward a $10,000 goal. The campaign wants to put the new billboard in the Triangle area, since another campaign has been set up to place one in the Greensboro area.

The billboard belongs to Whiteheart Outdoor Advertising, a company operated by Bill Whiteheart. He is a former Republican member of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and was known for being socially and fiscally conservative, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

The billboard was purchased for about $2,000 by a company that wishes to remain nameless, Whiteheart said.

Whiteheart said his company’s job is to convey a message, not to take sides on it.

“We don’t endorse the message that’s there,” he said. “We’re just the messenger.”

For more information on the counter campaign, go to www.gofundme.com/help-send-message.

Staff writer Chris Cioffi contributed to this report.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett

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