Los Angeles "Jaws" movie posters displayed on beach trash cans and lifeguard stations have critics snapping that the toothy posters frighten children.
Youngsters and beachgoers who don't speak English might mistake the advertisements for a warning, they argue, even though shark attacks are virtually unheard of here.
"This is offensive. Certainly, it's inappropriate," beach activist Howard Bennett said. He said his 3-year-old granddaughter refused to swim after seeing an ad on a trash barrel.
The posters are part of a national ad campaign promoting this week's release of "Jaws" on digital video disc, or DVD, 25 years after the debut of the horror movie about a giant shark that terrorizes a New England resort.
The ad, a version of the original movie poster, features the "Jaws" title in big red letters, along with the snout of a gaping great white. The poster appears on about 400 beach trash bins and dozens of lifeguard towers in Ventura, Orange, and Los Angeles counties.
"I was focusing on the fact that this was recognizable. ... It was just part of the American culture," said Kerry Gottlieb, chief deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors. "I certainly didn't want to have anybody be afraid or concerned."
The ads surfaced June 19 and will come down July 31.
"We've gotten nothing but positive feedback," said Greg Wooden, vice president of marketing for Adopt A Beach, which provides Los Angeles County with trash barrels and contracts with other companies to place ads.
At Playa del Rey, the ads didn't seem to keep anyone away Wednesday.
"I think it's kind of funny," said Ashli Hutchison, sunbathing with a friend.
Twelve-year-old Chase Sutton said the ads didn't keep him from swimming, but, he added, "Little kids might think, 'Oh, there are sharks in the ocean."'