Posters by the gay hook-up app Squirt.org have been removed from bus shelters in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, after just a week following complaints from locals.
Wales Online reports that the posters – promoting ‘Non-stop hookups’ – were removed after Twitter users branded them ‘inappropriate’ and ‘disgusting’ and complained to Cardiff Bus and Cardiff City Council.
The adverts were placed in the sites by ad agency Clear Channel, who say that the adverts had been cleared in a pre-vetting process by the Advertising Standards Agency.
Cardiff City Council instructed Clear Channel to remove the posters from two bus shelters.
— City of Cardiff (@cardiffcouncil) February 8, 2016
It confirmed this in a statement: ‘The council has a contract with Clear Channel for the maintenance of bus shelters throughout the city. This includes managing advertising displays.
‘Following a complaint about advertising that was considered inappropriate on two bus shelters on St Mary Street and Castle Street, the Council contacted Clear Channel and the posters have now been removed.’
The adverts have appeared in other UK sites, including London and Manchester.
However, the campaign, which has been running for the past couple of years, has faced complaints elsewhere in the world.
Squirt.org is headquartered in Canada. Its promotional posters were removed from subway trains in Toronto last September, with a spokesperson for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) saying that they had been removed for promoting sex in public places ‘which is against the law’.
The posters have also been removed from bus shelters in Miami.
The adverts also prompted complaints in the Netherlands, but in December the country’s Advertising Standards Board ruled that the adverts did not violate their advertising code.
Clear Channel told Gay Star Business that the adverts had been put up on 1 February, and had now been removed following the request from Cardiff City Council.
‘We carefully evaluate all of the advertising we carry on our sites. The advertising we currently carry for Squirt.Org was pre-vetted by the ASA before being displayed, and is part of a nationwide campaign. Following a request from our partners at Cardiff City Council, we removed two of the Squirt.Org advertisements in the city centre.’
In a statement to Gay Star Business, Attila Szatmari, digital business director for Pink Triangle Press, Squirt’s parent company, said: ‘Our campaign has run in many cities in the UK, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London, so we are very disappointed to see the reaction of the Cardiff council based on complaints from a few residents.
‘Our ads have been approved by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and we’ve been adhering to those guidelines completely. With this in mind, we will continue to do everything we can to get our advert seen.’
On Sunday, Squirt referenced the controversy on its Twitter feed, responding to a user who had branded the posters inappropriate and asking, ‘Is this really #inappropriate?’
— Dick Hunter (@SquirtOrg) February 7, 2016