Bus shelter ads promoting the gay hookup site Squirt were taken down in Miami in mid-November after the city received complaints about the campaign’s previously approved imagery and text.
The ads — 10 in total — which feature two shirtless men in an embrace accompanied by the words “Hot ’n Horny Hookups” or “Non-Stop Hookups,” were deliberately placed near gay establishments in the city, says Attila Szatmari, digital business director of Pink Triangle Press (PTP), which owns and operates Squirt (as well as Xtra). “We chose them strategically because we don’t necessarily want to target people that won’t visit the site.”
Miami resident Marta Viciedo told Local10 News reporter Eric Yutzy that the ad was “unnecessarily over-sexualized” and located in a public right-of-way frequented by children and families. “If my kids came out here and said, ‘Oh Mom, what’s a hot and horny hookup?’ — why do I need to explain that to a seven-year-old?” Viciedo asked.
The news report says Viciedo complained to the city about the ad in early November, but it remained up past the second week in the month.
Szatmari says Squirt’s ad distributor in Miami asked him to submit a revised version of the ad without the sexy taglines. Szatmari complied but notes that similarly sexy ads for straight services and products remain posted. Squirt’s revised ad has yet to be installed.
“We just want to have the same treatment as any straight sexy ad would have,” he says in a statement. “Lots of straight-themed ads are as sexy as ours: look at Step Up Revolution, Michael Kors, Guess, Viktor & Rolf and Calvin Klein ads. If these ads can be on streets across America, we don’t understand why two men embracing cannot.”
Meanwhile, an original “Non-Stop Hookups” Squirt ad was stolen from one of the bus shelter cases, which was smashed with a rock, Local10 News reports. Szatmari says the City of Miami has not contacted PTP about the stolen ad. Miami city officials have not returned Xtra’s calls requesting comment.
Szatmari says he found out about the stolen ad through social media and, subsequently, the Local10 report.
Squirt has launched a change.org petition to put pressure on the City of Miami to reinstate the ad. So far, the petition has garnered 1,497 signatures from Canada, UK, Australia and the US.
In contrast to Squirt’s reception in Miami, Szatmari says that when Squirt rolled out ads in New York phone kiosks earlier this year, focused on neighbourhoods with large gay populations, they were generally well received. Though he acknowledges that the campaign was not as sexy, as the models were clothed and one man sported a suit.
Squirt has also initiated an ad campaign in Atlanta, Georgia, that went live on Nov 24. It includes a billboard with imagery similar to the creative used for New York. Szatmari says it’s too early to tell how that campaign has been received.