Action Alert June 2011

This is an archived edition of Action Alert.

Sexualised Images in Outdoor Advertising

In May 2011, this advertisement began appearing on billboards and bus shelters in Brisbane. The advertisement, depicting two men in a sexualised embrace with one of the men holding a red-coloured packet containing a condom, has the words “Rip & Roll” beside a picture of a condom packet.

Although the word condom is not specifically mentioned, the advertisement is fairly suggestive of an imminent sexual act between the two men portrayed.

The advertisement also refers to the website of the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, a State-Government-funded group promoting – among other things – homosexual ‘safe-sex’ and AIDS prevention.

Adshel, the company responsible for putting the advertisement up in bus shelters throughout Brisbane, received forty-seven complaints from concerned citizens who did not think that such an advertisement ought to be displayed in outdoor locations – especially bus shelters – where children would be exposed to the sexualised image. Adshel decided to remove the advertisement, advised QAHC accordingly, and was then bombarded by a well-organised online campaign by homosexual activists. The activists claimed removing the advertisement would be an act of homophobia, not just a matter of appropriateness. Premier Anna Bligh (ALP) and Campbell Newman (Leader of the LNP) supported the activists, condemning the supposed homophobic attitude of the complainants. Adshel’s management reversed its decision and left the advertisements in place. GOA Billboards, the company responsible for the billboard version of the advertisement, has also continued to display the advertisement on its billboards around Brisbane.

However, this is not a question of homophobia! Similar concern would also be expressed if the advertisement depicted a heterosexual couple in a sexualised embrace with one of them holding a condom packet. The real question is about what ought to be appropriate in a public outdoor space. Just as the Advertising Standards Bureau eventually found the billboard advertisements with the words “Want longer lasting SEX?” offensive and banned them, this latest advertisement is offensive because it features adult sexualised themes that are inappropriate in an environment where children will be forced to view it. After all, condom advertisements can only be screened on television late at night when children are less likely to be viewing, but this condom advertisement is visible in Brisbane at all hours and in a media form that cannot be switched off. Most parents would not want their children exposed to such an in-your-face sexualised advertisement for condoms while the children sit at a bus stop waiting to catch a bus!

Although advertising campaigns only run for a limited time and therefore these advertisements will be removed in due course, we ought to register complaints against them so that advertisers will not use such sexualised images in the future. And although these advertisements only appeared in Brisbane, something similar could well be used elsewhere in the country, unless concerned citizens complain about adult sexualised images in outdoor advertising.

Contact the Advertising Standards Bureau [Level 2, 97 Northbourne Avenue, Turner, ACT, 2612, or (02) 61731500, or http://www.adstandards.com.au/] to register a complaint against this advertisement. Make sure that you emphasise that your concern is not about the same-sex couple, but about the sexualised image depicted in an outdoor environment where children can view it. The advertisement may be proper in a publication read by people who practise a same-sex lifestyle, but not in a public space. State your belief that all outdoor advertising ought to be G-rated.

Likewise, contact GOA Billboards [PO Box 2129, Fortitude Valley BC, Qld, 4006, or (07) 38541150, or info@goa.com.au] and Adshel [Suite 19, Plumridge House, 36 Agnes Street, Fortitude Valley, Qld, 4006, or (07) 32508200, or http://www.adshel.com.au/who/contact/] to complain about the decisions by these two companies to run this advertising campaign in outdoor advertising situations. Be polite, and again stress that your concern is not based on the issue of a same-sex couple but on the inappropriateness of such sexualised images in outdoor advertising.

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Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?
Psalm 94:16

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This monthly release is prepared by Pastor Brian Robertson (P O Box 2367, Bundaberg, 4670) to inform Christian people about issues within our society.  “Action Alert” does not promote any one political party, but encourages its readers to be “salt and light” by speaking out on some of these matters.  The views expressed in “Action Alert” are those of the author and are not necessarily those of a local church or a denominational organisation.  To the extent permissible by law, no church or denomination accepts liability for anything contained in this publication and any use made of it.