Transit Ad Rejected in DC / Approved in SF
Anti-Semitic Group Prompts Outrage with BART Ad
Website SF Gate, reports a Holocaust denial group has paid Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority (BART) $6,400 for 2 BART station digital platform display ads in San Francisco that read: “History matters.”
The advertiser is the Institute for Historical Review, (IHR) based in Fountain Valley in Orange County. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the IHR as a hate group.
Last year the Washington, D.C., transit authority, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rejected ‘a public service notice’ via Outfront Media from the IHR, in a similar message to the one that’s been accepted by the BART system. That notice was to appear on digital display screens in mezzanine areas of DC’s rail system.
Who owns the public space?
Intersection represents BART for Advertising. IHR purchased a digital platform 82″ diagonal digital display from Intersection. According to Intersection’s website, their ‘digital platform display’ has 12 ads, 9 editorial and 3 BART content.
With the cluttered number of messages per display and the unimpressive creative, we are not so sure anyone really would have noticed, if not for social media and the SF Chronicle’s SF GATE website. We aren’t suggesting the message and messenger should not be called out, but the earned media via social media, arguably delivered much more than the #OOH buy.
Defining OOH Free Speech
BART’s legal team determined a revised version, with just “history matters” superimposed over a globe and the group’s name, was valid under prior First Amendment rulings.
“Free speech court rulings reinforce the fact that BART cannot reject the ads as they are currently written,” according to a BART spokeswoman. “Nor can we reject the ads based on the group purchasing the ad.” BART does not endorse the ads.
Here is the IHR version⇒IHR Billboard Goes Up in San Francisco Metro Stations