Following release by TMZ this week of a video showing NFL player Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City hotel elevator, Otis Elevator, manufacturer of most of the world’s elevators, has decided to let Rice go as celebrity Spokesperson for its new ad campaign, “An Uplifting Story”. The lucrative endorsement deal was said to have totaled in the many hundreds of dollars, and persons close to the disgraced football star say he is floored by the decision.
Otis public relations officer, Carl Winters, said it was a difficult action to take, but necessary. “Mister Rice’s endorsement had been very good for the elevator business, Otis in particular,” Winters told us by phone from his College Park, Maryland office. “Overall elevator ridership was up 3% over fiscal year 2013, and focus groups easily identified Otis Elevator as the ‘Ray Rice elevator company.”
Winters said they had been looking forward to many years of association with Mr Rice and “as his career grew, we hoped to see our profits hit new heights, no pun intended. But we cannot, in good conscience, have anyone associated with our brand who treats other riders so disrespectfully. It bursts the bubble of the public’s fascination with elevator transportation, and overnight polls already show a drop off in ridership and an increase use of stairs and escalators across the country.”
An industry insider told Empire that by 6 AM the day following the video release, work crews had fanned out across the major US cities to remove Mr Rice’s likeness from billboards and buses advertising the Otis Elevator brand, but noted sadly that this gives the entire elevator transportation industry a black eye.
Junior Semples, President of the International Elevator Operators and Riders Consortium, told us that this will not deal a death blow to the industry, but it is already having a negative impact that will take some time to heal.
“I have heard complaints from parents all morning with fears their children may be subjected to these so-called ‘Knockout game-style punches’ if they ride an elevator,” he said. “I don’t know what to tell them except they should always be very careful when traveling by elevator, and whenever possible an adult should accompany children in a no more than five-to-one ratio.”
“Persons riding on an elevator should not have to fear for their safety,” said Semples. “This incident brings up a lot of troubling questions, for instance, was Ray Rice ever given proper training in elevator etiquette and safety? Should we allow NFL players to travel by elevator at all? Why doesn’t the NFL require players to wear a name tag that clearly identifies them as an NFL player so persons entering an elevator can decide for themselves whether they want to risk traveling with them? That is, at least, until all NFL players are re-educated on proper elevator transportation protocols.”
In his weekly Saturday morning address, President Obama is expected to talk about the Federal government’s response to the elevator tragedy. Sources on Capitol Hill have hinted that the President is planning to take executive action by assigning a highly trained guard to travel in elevators nationwide on a random basis, much the same way that Air Marshals have increased their presence in airplanes as more and more attempted attacks take place. There is a possibility that the White House will utilize Homeland Security Border Patrol agents not currently engaged in babysitting the hundreds of thousands of undocumented children who crossed the border this year for their new ‘elevator watch.’
“It’s like 1972 all over again,” Semples said, referring to the release year for the motion picture The Godfather, which showed fictional mobster Victor Stracci being gunned down in an elevator. “Ridership plummeted after that damn movie came out, especially in parts of the country with large Italian-American populations. Took years for the industry to rebound, just like the big hit the bathroom shower industry took in 1960 after Janet Leigh was hacked to death in a shower at the Bates Motel. I just hope this Ray Rice incident won’t cause the same slump, because in this economy that could mean a loss of jobs.”
Mr Rice could not be reached for comment.