I speak from experience when I say that people don’t always respond positively when you tell them your work deals with zombies. Nicholas J. Iannitti, Vice President and Director of Sales for ZMB Industries felt it first-hand last week when several of the company’s life-size bleeding zombie targets came under fire from certain media outlets, The Huffington Post in particular.
Iannitti explained that in separate instances the Rocky and “The Ex” models were under fire, but not by marksmen. Rocky, critics said, looks like president Barrack Obama and The Ex (which looks like a freshly turned zombie girlfriend) promoted violence against women.
Both targets have been on the market for some time and Iannitti said the recent controversy was based on people’s misconceptions.
“Many of them don’t seem to realize that we are talking about fictitious characters of zombie monsters which are already dead. They also don’t seem to realize that we are a target company focused on selling targets, and not some political organization making a statement,” he said. “We don’t have a political agenda… We have a zombie agenda!”
As for the design of the Rocky zombie, Iannitti explained that each of ZMB’s characters have a backstory. Rocky was a street fighter from Detroit, bitten and turned while fighting a zombie hand to hand.
“Anyone who thinks it looks like the current president is reading into it and projecting their own biases,” he said. “We explicitly say on our website that any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.”
Iannitti added that prior to the most recent incident people have said that the zombie reminds them of former basketball player Dennis Rodman and actor Will Smith.
Critics problem with The Ex wasn’t that she looked like anyone in particular, but simply that she depicted a woman. Granted she was a woman with milky white eyes and signs that she had just eaten your next door neighbor.
“How do you know it’s a ‘zombie’ and not just a bleeding woman wearing a half-torn shirt?” wrote Katie McDonough, an assistant editor for Salon.
Iannitti said his company does not condone violence against any living person, but especially women and children. The intent behind “The Ex” was to give ZMB’s customers a wider range of targets to prepare them for what they will face in a zombie apocalypse.
“Being prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse is something we take very seriously at Zombie Industries!” Iannitti said. “We also realize that the Zombie virus can attack any living thing regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnic background — even species, which is why we also provide animal and alien zombies too.”
Ironically, it was some of the company’s female customers who initially requested a female zombie target.
“We decided that to discriminate against women and not include them in our product line would be just plain sexist, so we came out with a female zombie to have everyone represented equally,” Iannitti said.
ZMB did not turn a deaf ear to the concerns, however, and The Ex has been removed from the product line. She has been replaced with Alexa.
“Her skin color has been changed to Green so there is no doubt she is now among the Undead ,” he said.
For a limited time, ZMB is celebrating the launch of the Alexa zombie with a promo code. Enter HUFF13 for 20% off the Alexa Zombie at http://zombieindustries.com/shop/alexa-zombie-target/
And that isn’t the only promotion going on right now. Iannitti said the company’s core fans have been very supportive throughout the ordeal.
“They get what we are trying to do and appreciate our products in the spirit intended. In this day of political correctness, they realize that any attack on Zombie Industries is a direct attack on their ability to prepare for the impending Apocalypse!” he said. “To show our appreciation for our supporters, your readers can use the Promo Code: DEBATE for 30% off their entire order.”
Looking back over the last few weeks, Iannitti said the incident has proven the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
“During all the controversy, our web traffic went from about 45K visits/month to about 17K visits/DAY. Sales also increased significantly during that time!” he said, adding that Rocky and Alexa were among the best sellers of the week. “Where we go from here is up. Tell you readers the should expect some new zombie models by next month.”