A new billboard for a gay dating and social networking website is causing controversy in Los Angeles, particularly among parents who feel the ad is simply too scintillating for their youngsters' eyes.
Shot by famed Spanish photographer JP Santamaria, the Manhunt ad -- used to promote a new component of the site exclusively for use on portable devices such as iPhones and iPads -- features two barechested male models in a sensual embrace.
Manhunt's Jason Harvey acknowledged in a blog that both the site itself and advertising agency Lamar Advertising received a flurry of complaints immediately after the new campaign premiered. A Lamar rep said that the agency went to great lengths to ensure no billboards featuring the photo were "not within 500 feet of schools, churches, playgrounds, etc."
The rep went on to note, "When we originally placed the units, we used our restriction codes that we have in our system for alcohol, to make sure that we were placing Manhunt in appropriate locations. Beyond that, we spent all day yesterday auditing each one of their locations to make sure that we didn’t miss anything or that a school/pre-school hasn’t popped up recently near one of their boards."
Area parents seem to feel differently. "It’s not the blatant porn-iness of the over-lit image, or that it is of two men. It would be equally annoying if it were hetero," Kelly Cole, a self-described "liberal feminist" and mother of a fourth grader, writes on Studio City Patch. "I know some would tell me to use the opportunity for an illuminating conversation. But I don’t need Manhunt Mobile to set my Important Talks Agenda. Our family really could have gone awhile longer without that particular conversation—and should’ve been able to do so."
Still, Harvey questions whether or not a similarly sexy ad for Michael Kors featuring a male and female model would've provoked the same level of outrage. "No, we don’t have any evidence that there weren’t any complaints to Michael Kors, his ad agency, or to L.A. political officials," he writes. "But we highly doubt that several media outlets approached them like they did us. Because, for some reason, gay sexuality is still scary and controversial for many people."
View the "offensive" ad below: