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Is This Message is ‘Too Sexy for the Subway’

MTA/Outfront Media Content Control-Fair or Unfair? Right? or Wrong? Sexism?

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Unbound submitted an ad campaign to the MTA NYC, to promote their company and products.  The creative was rejected. The ads which can be seen below, were deemed “sexually offensive material” and therefore not allowed on MTA advertising venues, according to Unbound the perspective advertiser. .

Too further plead their case, Unbound took their ‘rejected’ ads and mocked up examples placing their ads next to ads which have previously advertised with MTA, specifically comparing their’s to others accepted MTA Subway advertising.

The comparisons provided by the jilted women’s company, Unbound, certainly drives an effective point of comparison, in their claim of unjust decision by the MTA / Outfront Media.  We suspect MTA refused,  as typically the process is for the OOH company to submit creative to the Transit Authority for approval. We know from past experience sometimes the OOH Vendors will NOT submit and take the decision on themselves in rejection or acceptance.

Does Unbound have a valid point in arguing the MTA readily accepts erectile dysfunction and other “questionable creative” yet refuses their ‘art filled’ message? Is it a sexist determination?  Unbound points to the fact, in their opinion, the ED and similar ads which are accepted, are male targeted ads.  Unbound suggests biases against women in the media.  Do they have point?  Is it a case of society’s non- acceptance of women’s sexuality verses men’s?

Give the designs below a look.  It’s not easy to find anything offensive or disturbing in their designs.  In fact, one might argue, there is nothing offensive. Obviously MTA doesn’t agree with that notion.

MTA / Outfront Media may have the raw naked power to refuse the ads’ content but are they doing the right thing?  Particularly in this case,  where the creative is, in OOH Today’s opinion, tame. More creative examples below and the post from the company, Unbound. Go all the way to the bottom of this post to see every creative.

Where do you stand on this?

Read Unbound’s opinion on the subject here⇒  Too Sexy for the Subway

The rejected ad on the left. One which was accepted on the right for ED
Unbound Rejected design left and accepted design on the right. Which is more offensive?
Both top and bottom creative rejected,

The article

  • unboundbabes  WE NEED UR HELP! Last week, Unbound submitted our first ad campaign to the #MTA. And we were rejected. After emails and a phone call, the MTA confirmed that our ads were denied for being “offensive sexual material.”** We wanted to convey the idea that the pursuit of sexual wellbeing is an act of self-love and to showcase the belief that women’s sexuality IS something worthy of more public visibility. And we did this by commissioning the artwork you see above from @lauracallaghanillustration, @cosmicsomething, @kliuwong, @robineisenberg + @yokopium.Since @mtanyctransit won’t take our ads, we’re asking for UR help. If u believe that this art and women’s sexuality deserve equal access to public forums, please consider screenshotting & sharing the artwork above with the hashtag: #WTFMTA
    **Meanwhile, an erectile dysfunction company has bought out #GrandCentralStation starting today. We saw the ~rise~ of these ads on the subway as a hopeful sign that the committee that regulates ad space was loosening their standards a bit. If there are now countless ads for erectile dysfunction, why can’t we create ads that depict a positive sexual well-being without it being deemed offensive?
MTA Creative rejected
MTA Creative rejected




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  1. Raymond Rodriguez says

    I assume the logic is that ED is a medical problem, and toys replacing adolescent males with commitment phobias is a choice. God forbid she finds the toys more interesting, less frustrating, and available at her command.

    The MTA would benefit from a little #metoo. BTW, tres cool artwork.

  2. Mel says

    This double standard is ridiculous! The approved ads are way worse than the rejected ones. This is shocking! The campaign looks great to me.

  3. Bill Board says

    Raymond, your humor laced observations are very appreciated. I would suspect Unbound will tell you the value of sexual wellness for female as important, perhaps medical, as ED for men. #metoo indeed. Thank you

  4. Bill Board says

    As much as we try not to take sides on issues, Mel, we agree with your comments. Thank you. Bill

  5. Bill Board says

    One would have to do a full on sexy version search game like Where’s Waldo to find the adult items in these images!

  6. b says

    An irony or hypocrisy, OOH, like any other media, can use sex and use the female body to sell just about anything. Its a line perhaps not so finely defined, which delineates the use of the female body image to sell and a female actually caring for their body.

  7. Bill Board says

    On Thursday, the MTA reversed itself, saying it would work with the sex toy company, to find a way to permit it to advertise without violating transit authority rules.


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