A dating website wanted to put up a billboard supporting gay marriage using likenesses of well-known politicians and businessman just outside Dunedin in time for the Republican National Convention.
Clear Channel Communications said no to the likenesses, and the veto has caused a headache for the city of Clearwater, which is mistakenly being criticized for censoring it.
Beautifulpeople.com's national billboard campaign was to depict the likenesses of presidential candidate Mitt Romney betrothed to real estate mogul Donald Trump, with President Barack Obama as the officiant.
Greg Hodge, managing director of beautifulpeople.com, launched the advertising campaign to bring awareness to the dating website's new gay and lesbian version.
On behalf of the website, Much and House Public Relations issued a release through PR Newswire, a national press release wire service, that criticized the city of Clearwater for banning the billboard on Tuesday.
According to the release:
The censored images, originally a playful take on political dissonance, have gone up in 10 locations around Los Angeles including West Hollywood, California — one of the largest LGBT communities in the country — and Clearwater, Florida – the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention. The city banned the original campaign images, which have now been released in their uncensored form via mobile billboards in New York City.
The images of actors portaying Obama, Romney and Trump are instead depicted on the billboard as white-space cutouts at the intersection of State Road 580 and Belcher Road in unincorporated Pinellas County, where advertisers believed it would be near the Republican National Convention in Clearwater. (Some delegates will stay in Clearwater, but the convention is actually being held in Tampa.). It is to be up through August. The RNC is Aug. 27-30.
Joelle Castelli, Clearwater city spokeswoman, said she was called and questioned by members of the media about the censored billboard, and that is how she found out about the issue. Castelli talked to officials in the city attorney's office and planning department and was told they did not know anything about the billboard and that they don’t regulate billboard content.
She said Clearwater city officials were told Clear Channel Communications did not approve of the billboard.
Multiple calls to Clear Channel were not returned before publishing time.
Later an update to the release was issued, citing Clear Channel Outdoor for censoring the billboard content:
BeautifulPeople.com issued a news release this morning claiming that the City of Clearwater, Florida rejected their pro-gay marriage billboard campaign featuring lookalikes of Obama and leading political figures. We were given this information, which has since regretfully proven to be incorrect. We would like to sincerely apologize to the City of Clearwater, Florida who have since advised that they did not object to the original campaign content and had no say regarding the content approval process. We have now been informed that Clear Channel Outdoor refused the original billboards. We have requested a statement in writing from Clear Channel and await a response.