Mysterious billboards have gone up in Los Angeles and San Francisco invoking the Uvalde school massacre to urge people not to move to Texas. CBS Bay Area reports that the billboards feature a sinister figure in a hooded top and the words: "The Texas dream died in Uvalde. Don't move to Texas." It's not clear who is behind the billboards, which don't bear any group's logo. One theory holds "that the ad may have come from right-leaning Texans eager to keep liberal Californians away from their voting booths," per SFGate, while others believe it's an effort from Californians to slow the "exodus" to Texas.
According to US Census data, there have long been more Californians moving to Texas than Texans moving in the other direction, with an average of 68,7000 Californians moving to Texas every year from 2009 to 2019, accounting for around a third of the state's new residents. Critics said the billboards are stunningly insensitive, no matter who is behind them. One commenter online called the campaign a "disgusting use of political propaganda," per SFGate.
Eric Radle, CEO of the Dallas-based Miller Ad Agency, says mentioning the competition means you've already "lost the game" in advertising, and the billboards' message is distasteful. "It's a bridge too far, and I think it's left-handed to try to equate a move to Texas with violence. Every populous state has these issues," he tells WFAA. "And the timing is always poor if you're referencing the pain of others to drive home your message--that's a bad idea in advertising." (Read more California stories.)