State-owned company considering pulling controversial safe-sex ad
Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter
The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) might soon strip a provocative safe-sex advertisement from its buses.
The controversial advertisement has been the subject of much debate in recent time, and chairman of the bus company, the Reverend Garnett Roper, has agreed that it is "unduly provocative" and "not suited for a public space".
However, Roper was not willing to give a commitment that the advertisement would be immediately stripped from the buses.
"I am not saying it will be withdrawn but in all likelihood it will be. I don't think it is in the best taste or in the public's interest, and in that regard, I expect the committee to take the appropriate action," explained Roper.
"I am of the view that this one is unnecessarily explicit," he added.
Roper also told The Sunday Gleaner that he would ask the bus company's managing director, Colin Campbell, to strengthen the committee responsible for vetting and approving the advertisements.
"I think this one has slipped through the cracks," added Roper, as he indicated that he would be writing to the JUTC partner, National Outdoor Advertising, to point out that the bawdy bus advert was "not according to its usually high standard".
He said although the JUTC is cash-strapped, it will maintain its standards.
The provocative colour ad is plastered along the panel area just above the window in some buses and is repeated several times throughout the bus.
It contains two pictures. The first shows a male and a female facing each other with their foreheads and noses touching.
The second picture shows a scantily clad woman in a sitting position on the back seat of what appears to be a car, her legs open, head tilted back in erotic pleasure, while a man positioned between her legs was planting kisses on her neck.
The tag line for the ad is: "As you tube up for protection ... Lube up for pleasure."
This is one of several ads on JUTC buses and Clinton Clarke, marketing and communications manager at JUTC, told The Sunday Gleaner that his department is responsible for vetting and approving them.
Clarke defended the JUTC's vetting process when asked if the bus company considered the raunchy safe-sex advertisement appropriate for children, who represent a significant portion of its commuters.
"We believe that adverts that are on our buses are in order, but we pay particular attention to the voice of the Jamaica people in our deliberations and our decisions and a number of issues," said Clarke in a written response to questions from our news team.
Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison does not agree that the controversial advert is "in order".
She told The Sunday Gleaner that JUTC needed to have been more circumspect in its approval of the controversial advert.
"The OCA (Office of the Children's Advocate) appreciates the need to be economically viable and, as such, the attraction of the JUTC to have perhaps seen the acceptance of the ad as a commercial opportunity. Despite this, however, more caution should have been exercised," said Gordon Harrison.
She added: "The OCA considers the pictures (especially the one to the right with the couple in a reclining position) to be particularly provocative. While we have no issue with the need to have a safe-sex campaign pursued, images that are less sexually suggestive could be used because we do have children who use the buses as well."
The Children's Advocate also offered her office's expertise to serve as a guide in the decision-making processes which may impact children in any sphere.
"In the future, we would urge the JUTC to liaise with us if there's any doubt. This would prove a good preventative mechanism," said Gordon Harrison.
In the meantime, the JUTC's marketing and communications manager said that if an advert offends any citizen, then the bus company has a responsibility to take the necessary action, which may be as adverse as pulling it. "We will continue to assess each advert on a case by case scenario to be satisfied that they are not inappropriate," stated Clarke.
The JUTC collects millions of dollars each year from advertisers, with rates set in collaboration with National Outdoor Advertising.
There are different rates for each panel, as against a full wrap of a bus. The advertisements run for a year.
"Note that there is a driver side panel, an access side panel and a back panel. Access side panel (costs) $120,000, driver side panel (costs) $120,000 and the back panel (costs) $180,000, while a full wrap is just over $450,000," explained Clarke.
With private bus operators withdrawing their service since last week, the JUTC ads have recived even more exposure.