Virgin Mobile's sexy ads being pulled in Mississauga
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, January 7, 2010 7:18PM EST
CALGARY - Two Canadian cities have banned a pair of steamy billboard ads for Virgin Mobile after public complaints.
The ads, which each show a man passionately kissing a woman while touching her buttocks with the caption "Hook Up Fearlessly," were pulled recently in Mississauga, Ont., and are now being removed by the Calgary Transit Authority.
Calgary Transit spokesman Ron Collins said they wanted to avoid anything that might be seen as sexual exploitation of either men or women.
"The two ads that were removed, we found them to be quite provocative," said Collins. "It's just not the place for this kind of public advertising.
"A mom, for example, with an eight-year-old girl, we don't feel that they have much choice other than to have to look at it."
Three versions of the ad from the cellphone provider were being displayed at about 50 bus stops around Calgary. One version, which also features and man and woman embracing, was deemed to be suitable and is not being removed, said Collins.
The transit authority uses guidelines set out by Advertising Standards Canada stating that sexual exploitation should be avoided, he said.
But so far, the national advertising watchdog has not had any complaints about the ads and has no plans to start an investigation.
"We never monitor advertising, but we always react to complaints," said Danielle Lefrancois, spokeswoman for the group. "We would have to consider the nature of the complaint itself."
Ed De Grosbois, director of business services for the City of Mississauga, said the city removed the same two ads for similar reasons as cited in Calgary.
"Many of these campaigns would be quite suitable for a magazine, but putting them into a bus shelter where there's young children I think is the main issue," De Grosbois said.
Virgin Mobile spokesman Nathan Rosenberg said the company doesn't see what all the fuss is about.
"Advertising can sometimes be a little boring," Rosenberg said from the company's Canadian headquarters in Toronto.
"I think in these cold, dark winter months the idea of people passionately embracing each other and being a little spontaneous isn't a bad thing."
Virgin Mobile has no plans to change its campaign, which is currently running across Canada, he said.
There will eventually be four ads in all, including one that hasn't been seen in Calgary yet showing two men kissing over the same caption.