A health department’s plans to post a billboard as part of a safe-sex ad campaign hit a snag when an ad company refused to accept a spot featuring a shirtless man and an arrow pointing “down there.”
The Columbus, Ohio, Public Health agency’s “Take Care Down There” campaign is targeted at young gay African-American men and gay men over 40, spokesman Jose Rodriguez said. It was launched in March with an ad in Outlook, a local magazine for gay readers, and also will use radio spots, print ads, bar coasters, pocket cards and social media sites.
Clear Channel felt the billboard was inappropriate and specifically objected to the arrow and had concerns that it would be seen by children, said spokesman Jim Cullinan.
“We suggested some slight alterations which would have made the ad acceptable, but those small changes were rejected,” the company said in a statement. “Clear Channel is a member of the Columbus community and we have a responsibility to the community to ensure ad copy on our billboards is appropriate.”
Rodriguez said the company wanted the arrow removed completely from the billboard, so health department officials decided to seek out other ad companies to post the message.
“It was very disappointing that they made an objective decision not to allow our board,” he said.
It was to be placed in a neighborhood in downtown Columbus that Rodriguez described as diverse.
The theme was created input from two focus groups from the populations being targeted, Rodriguez said.
“Those folks kind of led the way,” he said. “They wanted it to be clear, simple, succinct and to the point.”
The $20,000 campaign is funded by federal money aimed at preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Additional phases of the campaign will garget other populations.
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