Discrimination
2 min

Calgary Transit yanks “provocative” Virgin Mobile ads

UPDATE, 4:00pm: We just got off the phone with Virgin again and they confirmed that the gay kiss ads never ran in Calgary, contrary to what they told Xtra earlier today. "We're sorry that was miscommunicated," says Virgin spokesperson Chris Baines. The two Virgin ads censored by Calgary Transit featured sexy straight couples.

I guess that's somewhat reassuring, but it's still frightening that Calgary Transit is playing morality police by censoring ads because they're "too provocative." In 2009, Calgary Transit rejected an ad that featured a sculpture of a naked newborn baby, because some people might have found it to be "offensive." 

UPDATE, 3:30pm: Ron Collins from Calgary Transit tells Xtra the gay kiss ad never ran in Calgary, but when Xtra spoke to Virgin this morning, we were told the opposite. Collins said that the two ads yanked featured heterosexual couples only. We'll update you as soon as we hear more. 

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12:32pm: Calgary Transit has reportedly yanked a Virgin Mobile ad featuring a gay kiss.

  

The ad, which has appeared in bus shelters across Canada, apparently concerned some who felt it was too sexual and inappropriate for children.

The gay kiss ad is part of Virgin's "Hook Up Fearlessly" campaign. Calgary Transit is removing two of the campaign's ads, yet a third ad featuring a heterosexual kiss will remain, spokesman Ron Collins told Sun Media. Check out the ad that will remain up:  


 

"The two that we've removed were a little bit too provocative," Collins told Sun Media.   

Virgin Mobile spokesperson Nathan Rosenberg says the company is "very proud" of the gay ad.  

"We were surprised that if people had a concern that it took this long to hear about it, because they've been up for over six weeks now," he tells Xtra.

Three ads in the "Hook Up Fearlessly" campaign feature heterosexual couples and one features a gay couple. Rosenberg says the gay ad was used in random locations across major markets and not just in downtown cores. 

"We ran that ad in spaces that you wouldn't traditionally run it in. Marketing firms tend to keep gay ads and depictions of gay couples in gay districts. From our point of view, that's kind of limiting. As a gay person myself, I shop in other places, I don't just shop on Church St," says Rosenberg.


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