Maxim magazine issues apology for ad depicting big rigs as 'Serial Killers'

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 6/5/2014

Bowing to pressure from truckers and the trucking industry, one of the nation's largest magazines is apologizing for an offensive ad that claimed that tractor trailers are "serial killers."

Maxim, a men’s magazine with a circulation of more than 2 million issues, has said it will “resolve the situation immediately,” according to an email exchange with Trucking Moves America Forward.

The magazine has agreed to send out an apology to the industry, as well as remove the ad from the digital version. In addition, the company will provide space for a full-page ad in the July/August issue and will pull the rest of the June issues and do a reprint.

Both the magazine and a San Antonio personal injury law firm drew fire from truckers and truck stops for an ad that depicted a photoshopped Kenworth tractor and the phrase “serial killer” above the windshield.

A spokesman for the law firm, Villarreal & Begum in San Antonio said the law group was working on a statement to address the outcry from the ad, but that it plans to cease using the ad. A flood of negative comments on social media sites led the firm to lock down its Facebook page on Wednesday.

Both the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations issued statements condemning the ad, which depicted truckers as the primary source of highway fatalities. The ad claims that there were 33,561 fatalities on U.S. highways last year, and another 2.36 million injuries, implying the bulk of these incidents involved truckers and commercial motor carriers.

In fact, the 33,561 figure is the total number of all highway fatalities in the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year in which figures are available, according to a report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. That number includes every single highway fatality, including those in which no tractor trailers or commercial vehicles were involved in.

In actuality, there were 3,802 large trucks involved in crashes in 2012. Studies show that 80 percent -- in the case of 2012 that would be 3,041 -- were not the fault of the truck driver.

“The ad smears, it defames, it slanders hard-working professionals all for the purpose of enriching personal injury parasite lawyers,” OOIDA executive vice president Todd Spencer said Thursday.

“It defames an occupation in the millions that performs a critical service to the nation, and it is one of the most offensive injury attorney advertisements we’ve ever seen. We can only imagine what ads like this would look like if minimum insurance requirements are raised.”

ATA president Bill Graves called the ad “absolutely appalling and outrageous” in a letter to Maxim’s editors.

“The trucking industry is the backbone of the American economy and is vital to our everyday lives,” the letter stated. “Without trucks, how would you publish Maxim Magazine? For instance, the machines, paper, ink, desks, chairs … everything is delivered by truck.”

Professional groups weren’t the only members of the trucking industry outraged by the ad’s allegations. Before being shut down, the law group’s Facebook page was flooded with angry comments from truckers and other industry professionals.

Even the truck stop chains announced their displeasure, as both Pilot Flying J and TA/Petro announced today that the offending issue of the magazine was being removed from their stores.

Pilot Flying J spokeswoman Anne LeZotte said the company pulled the magazine from the shelves of its more than 650 travel centers and travel plazas across North America because the company “does not believe accurately depicts professional drivers.”

“Pilot Flying J is proud to serve professional drivers and grateful for the important work that they do,” she said.

TA/Petro spokesman Tom Liutkes said the company put all its copies of the magazine in the trash.

Love’s Truck Stops, which does not carry magazines, issued a statement calling the ad “offensive.”

“We were dismayed by the ad in Maxim,” Love’s vice president of communications Jenny Love Meyer said in an email to Land Line. “It’s offensive to professional drivers and to Love’s. … Love’s recently partnered with Trucking Moves America Forward to help bolster the image of the trucking industry. We will continue working with such groups to let America know the value of the professional driving community.”

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