ANNAPOLIS, JUNE 10 -- Television ads touting the state's new feel-good-about-yourself promotion program, "Maryland, You Are Beautiful," are being remade to feature more beautiful Marylanders who also happen to be black.
The original ad was withdrawn after Baltimore television station WMAR (Channel 2), which, like other television stations around the state, had been asked to air the public service spot, pointed out that only three of the 48 people in the ad were black.
"Quite naturally, I took offense" at the commercial, said George N. Buntin Jr., executive director of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, who was contacted about the ads by the television station. "It is symbolic of the lack of importance . . . afforded to the black community."
"Maryland, You Are Beautiful" is the brainchild of Floraine B. Applefeld, volunteer director of the Governor's Promotion Program.
The program debuted Monday with Gov. William Donald Schaefer showing off a T-shirt with the new slogan and mugging for the cameras.
Applefeld said the program was not intended to replace the state's tourism efforts. Instead, she called it a "love affair between the people and their state" and said its first goal would be to find "unsung heroes" to be honored as "beautiful people."
Applefeld, who ran a similar program called "Baltimore's Best" while Schaefer was mayor, said the controversy would not hurt her efforts.
"Really, it's not a problem," she said.
"No one was insensitive in any way."
She said new commercials, supervised by a Baltimore advertising agency helping with the promotion campaign, could be ready as early as Friday.
"It is just a matter of balancing things," Applefeld said, adding that the production company that made the commercials already had tape of black Marylanders that wasn't used in the original commercials.
Buntin said he was glad the commercials, which feature shots of Marylanders in a variety of activities, are being reedited to more closely reflect the state's racial makeup, which is about 25 percent black.
But he wasn't sure that it was being done for the right reason.
"The only reason they're pulling the ad is because one of the TV stations said they weren't going to air it," Buntin said.
"What they do to this ad is inconsequential," Buntin said.
"Obviously, the governor didn't have anyone on his staff who was black and who could have alerted him to this problem."
"The promotion campaign . . . is a volunteer effort not being done by the governor's office," said Schaefer press secretary Bob Douglas.
"It was not shown to us beforehand."
Douglas said that after his office received complaints about the commercial, he reviewed a copy of the ad and agreed with the criticism.