If a story were ever to epitomize the phrase "anal retentive" it's this one. Sunglass company Spy regularly posts creative billboards on the Pacific Coast Highway that runs through downtown Encinitas near the road that leads to Moonlight Beach. Apparently their newest billboard, which had no images other than the Spy logo and had just the sentence, "Happy To Sit On Your Face" written in white lettering with a blue backdrop, was too racy for numerous conservative members of the community because of the far reaching sexual implication, even though the obvious message refers to a pair of sunglasses sitting on a person's face.
"We wanted to build up a teaser to the new lens technology we have coming out in the spring," Spy marketing director Devon Howard told the North County Times in reference to their soon-to-be-released Happy Lens technology. "We're trying to have some fun and create some awareness that this is coming."
Unfortunately the billboard, owned by Clear Channel Communications (who employs conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, among many syndicated radio programs) came down early this morning. "We're disappointed," continued Howard. "If we thought there was going to be an issue, we would have had an alternate advertisement ready to go."
Even the mayor of Encinitas, Jerome Stocks, said he didn't hear of any complaints from residents of the town. "It doesn't offend me personally, but I guess for some people it's a question mark, is it clever marketing or is it maybe a half step too far?" Stocks told the North County Times. "For me, frankly, it's pretty damn clever."
Local news website Encinitas.Patch.com conducted a survey of 134 residents asking their opinion on the billboard. The unscientific results produced numbers that showed 69 percent of those surveyed liked the ad, 19 percent found it offensive, and 10 percent were indifferent.
With election season in full swing, this is a perfect example of what separates one side from another (apologies in advance for the political rant). While conservatives preach vehemently about freedom of speech, personal freedoms and leaving government out of people's lives, they suddenly pull the hypocritical card on an almost daily basis with stories like these by complaining about said free speech. There is zero chance, I think, that a liberal complained about this billboard. None. Zilch. This was probably some square who probably has kids and thought it was sending a bad message that would poison young people's minds with sexual innuendo.
In reality, the billboard didn't break any laws, didn't cross any lines, and if a person understood the message, they're old enough to get the humor behind it. Yet the "evil empire" Clear Channel Communications bowed to conservative pressure and notified Spy Sunglasses, a company based in nearby Carlsbad, that they were going to pull the billboard down. Which they did. This is the world that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and conservatives want Americans to live in. A world where creativity with the slightest of edge is a crime, where fear and paranoia is a way of life. This is wrong. By this line of logic, companies like Nike can no longer use the slogan "Just Do It" on billboards because of the sexual double meaning. Shame on those who complained about the billboard, shame on Clear Channel Communications for letting the wrong side win, and props to Spy for their creative marketing campaign that didn't break any rules.
A handful of people came for a protest the morning the billboard came down to protest the decision. People held signs with phrases including "What Did Happy Ever Do To You?" and "Happiness Censored."
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