Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Gods of Rock', another controversial OC ad campaign

Since Virgin Radio bought out The Bear radio station (106.9 fm) a few weeks ago, they've blitzed the city with their 'Gods of Rock' advertising campaign, featuring the slogan, "Lock up your daughters, the gods of rock are now in Ottawa' accompanied by photographs of pregnant young women. It's received its fair share of criticism.

Carleton University master's student Laura Sparling championed the campaign to have the ads pulled, stating her position in a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen:
The city bus shelter ad originally drew my attention because I suspected it was promoting a social support service, with the photograph of a pregnant and troubled young woman between the ages of 16 and 22. Imagine my shock when I read the caption: "Lock up your daughters; the Gods of Rock are now in Ottawa." Excuse me.

While Virgin Radio attempts to create humour and irony by featuring ads of pregnant women, these ads are anything but funny. Through statements that openly promote female subjugation and condone the sexual objectification and ravaging of young women, this ad series sets the feminist struggle for ownership over our bodies and our choices back decades.
Sparling also started a Facebook group called 'Demand that Virgin Radio Remove Sexist Advertisements' to put pressure on the new radio station to pull their ads (although I can't seem to find the Facebook group), and she organized an online petition, which has just under 500 signatures as of writing, to demonstrate how citizens felt about the issue.

And apparently, the public pressure has worked. According to an article in the Citizen on Feb. 18, Virgin has voluntarily dropped their advertising campaign because, according to Pete Travers, program director at Virgin Radio Ottawa, "It was not our intention to offend anybody."

As recently as Monday, Feb. 23, there were still the ads on billboards on Sparks Street. Still, the decision by Virgin to pull the ads demonstrates that sometimes corporations will cave to public pressure.

What I want to know is how a radio station is going to impregnate my daughter.


Anonymous said...

Those ads were so stupid. They weren't eye-catching or punchy as advertisements and they weren't clever or funny either. I didn't understand if they were hinting that Virgin would bring great bands to town or if the radio hosts themselves were impregnating the girls or what the hell they were trying to say! But they certainly didn't make me want to listen to Virgin Radio.
I actually got depressed just looking at those vacant, sad-eyed, cracked out pregnant girls. So I'm glad I don't have to see those stupid ads at the bus stop anymore!

Sixth Estate said...

As I wrote on my blog, it's disturbingly ironic that OC Transpo - and the city transit committee - blocked an attempt to have an atheist-backed ad saying "there is probably no God" on the buses for reasons of public decency, yet didn't see any reason to object to the Virgin ads on the same grounds.

As of this morning (finally), the ad at the Albert and Bay transit station has now been replaced. I still saw some closer to Rideau on the weekend too, but they may have been finally taken off during this week.

Anonymous said...

The accusation that these advertisments "openly promote female subjugation and condone the sexual objectification and ravaging of young women" is ridiculous. Hypersensitive Carleton University students need to direct their good intentions elsewhere. Ottawa continues to earn its reputatoin as "Anti-fun City."

Dwight Williams said...

They're certainly convicted on charges of - at minimum - sheer tastelessness. Not to mention the lack of equal opportunity for 20-something guys to be equally subject to the same routine.

I've said this before elsewhere: Where were the "Lock Up Your SONS!" posters?

Anonymous said...

Virgin radio did not buy The Bear.

Astral Media bought Standard Broadcasting, a company that owned The Bear as well as many other radio stations across Canada. Astral then went and bought the rights to use the Virgin name for their radio stations. Kinda like how Scotiabank has their name on the hockey arena, but they don't own the place, or the team.

Virgin is a UK company. Only Canadian companies can own Canadian media outlets.