Adshel extends gay safe sex ad run

By By Wenlei Ma | 2 June 2011
Safe sex campaign by the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.

EXCLUSIVE: Adshel has extended the gay safe sex ad campaign for a further two weeks without charge following yesterday's storm of controversy.

Adshel attracted widespread criticism yesterday over its initial decision to remove a campaign from the Queensland Association of Healthy Communities promoting safe sex within the gay community. AdNews revealed that AdShel had reversed its decision and reinstated the campaign late yesterday.

QAHC executive director Paul Martin told AdNews he had spoken to Adshel over the last two days and the out-of-home media company had offered to run the campaign for an extra two weeks free of charge.

The campaign had originally been booked for two weeks and was in its last days when they were taken down. Martin said the company will use Adshel again for its advertising but will sit down with the company to discuss its complaints processes once the controversy dies down.

Martin said the organisation was overwhelmed with messages of support from the broader public and had seen an increase in donations following yesterday's events.

Meanwhile Goa Billboards, which refused to pull down the same ads from its billboard sites, launched a tactical campaign last night across one of its digital billboards in Brisbane with the message "Our god loves everyone gay & straight".

Goa billboard

The family owned company will ask people to submit messages on Facebook to appear on the billboard until the weekend. Goa Billboards managing director Chris Tyquin told AdNews he wanted to engage the broader community and have them participating in the debate surrounding content in out-of-home advertising.

Tyquin reaffirmed his company's decision to keep running the campaign, unless directed otherwise by the Advertising Standards Bureau.

Tyquin said: "I note that is not illegal to advertise condoms nor to depict two men embracing. The Australian Christian Lobby's (ACL) claim that these men are engaging in an act for foreplay is drawing a long bow. If that's foreplay, then clearly I'm doing it wrong."

Adshel and Goa Billboards ran the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities' (QAHC) "Rip and Roll" campaign across sites in Brisbane. The campaign was targeted by the conservative ACL and Adshel initially removed the campaign after receiving several complaints.

Adshel originally sought to distance itself from the ACL, issuing a statement in the morning they had removed the campaign due to several individual complaints. When the ACL director Wendy Francis claimed credit for orchestrating the complaints, Adshel reversed its decision.

Support for the QAHC campaign erupted across social media, with a Facebook page created by one of the men posing in the ad garnering over 80,000 supporters as of this morning. "Adshel", "ACL" and "ripnroll" is still trending on Twitter.

Wendy Francis told AdNews, "I'm really disappointed the posters have been put up, condom advertising don't belong in public spaces. There is a time and place for sex education and bus shelters aren't it.

"I was surprised by the number of people who joined the Facebook page, but I guess there was a gay couple involved and people were upset by that."

Francis was adamant this instance was no different to how the group had approached the way it complained about "inappropriate" advertising in public spaces. She said that the ACL has previously successfully lobbied for other material to be taken down, pointing to a campaign for the television program The Vampire Diaries which depicted a woman being bitten by two men simultaneously.

Francis said she has received a lot of hate mail as a result of yesterday's quagmire.

The campaigns were developed by Brisbane advertising agency Junior, who works with QAHC on a project basis.

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