Though you may not know it, the billboard has been around since 1867, but today it’s probably not what you think of when you hear the word advertisements. You probably think something more along the line of a pop-up or those annoying commercials that come on the radio. While many of them are still simply used as advertisements or as a way of letting people know that the next rest stop is in 20 miles and that McDonalds is 5 miles away on the right, some have really caused a lot of controversy with the messages they spread. Of course with freedom of speech being thrown all over the place, in many locations there is no way to say what can or cannot be put onto a billboard.
Below are 10 billboards that have definitely caught the eyes of many. Most of them get the word out about some of today’s most controversial topics while others are just plain wrong.
10. Embarrassed Yet?
With every president often comes some sort of disapproval; actually, with any type of politician there is always opinions, both good and bad. And of course Barack Obama is no exception to this long standing way of political life. With so many opinions, two very different political parties, it’s no surprise that someone won’t hesitate to speak out against the president. Across the country there are plenty of people who don’t approve of Obama’s course of action but in Texas, a man named Ellis Miller decided to take it to the next step. To show his high disapproval of the direction of the health care bill, he decided to purchase a billboard that simply said: “Voted Obama? Embarrassed Yet?”
Miller thought that by putting the board up, more people would reconsider their votes and choose to not re-elect Obama in the next elections. He also wanted people to realize the actions Obama is taking and how his choice of words such as “spreading the wealth” could be a lean towards Socialism. Though this billboard definitely isn’t as bad as it can get, I’m not sure of many 69-year old men who would spend $500+ to express their presidential disapproval.
9. My. My Death. My Choice
Blame Jack Kevorkian for this one! Another hot topic that is often debated in today’s world is assisted suicide and whether or not a person has the right to commit suicide when they see fit. The billboard has been posted in various locations including San Francisco, New Jersey, and Florida. It reads “My Life. My Death. My Choice.” and advertises a website entitled Final Exit Network. While the company only claims that they are getting word out that there are other options, such as suicide, when one is confronted with terminal illness, others say the billboard is just immoral. The fact that everyone no matter their age can see the billboard really worries many.
As it stands, assisted suicide is only legally allowed in 3 states: Washington, Montana, and Oregon, but the patient must have a terminal illness and a sound mind. Outside of the U.S., assisted suicide is usually a crime. In England, a physician can be punished to 14 years in jail for taking part in assisted suicide. Today many are pushing for the laws to be changed. A lot of people believe that if one is terminally ill, they have the right to end any type of pain or discomfort they are in as it’s extremely cruel to allow someone to suffer until the disease kills them.
8. Calvin Klein Billboards
It’s pretty safe to say that sex sells; movies, books, television shows, and even billboards that have some sort of sexual content to them often draw more attention than a non-suggestive advertisement would. It’s also pretty safe to say that when it comes to over-the-top sexually and risqué billboards, Calvin Klein takes the crown most definitely. Many, if not all of the billboards that the company has ran are highly sexual and involve half naked models, both women and men in pretty sexual positions. One billboard that really got a lot of controversy was one ran in 2009 with a teenage girl participating in a threesome.
While sex may really sell, many believe that a lot of these ads have gone too far. And while freedom of speech is always there to rely upon, not everyone should be able to see such sexually suggestive ads, especially younger children. On the other hand people argue that freedom of speech is exactly that and that the ads are nothing more than advertisements and despite the sexual feel that goes along with them, in the end it all comes down to business and profit.
7. “Jesus Affirmed a Gay Couple”
This billboard targets two of the most controversial debates in today’s world: the idea of gay rights as well as whether or not certain religions, specifically Christianity condone or support the gay lifestyle. This has been an ongoing debate for years and still nothing concrete has come out of it. But, according to the billboard, Jesus supported a gay couple during a story in the Bible. This of course is not concrete as well, but the advertisement points out Matthew 8:5-13 when Jesus is called to help heal a servant. Though this seems like a common biblical story, many hang on a word that was first used: pais. Of course, the word has various meanings, but those who support gays and the Christian lifestyle say that pais could mean a master’s male lover, but it could also simply mean a servant or just a son or boy.
Unsurprisingly, the company that ran the billboard, Would Jesus Discriminate is made up of those who believe that Jesus did in fact support and provide help to gays. Of course, it’s obvious that the company has focused on this one small word to get their point across without realizing that the word does have other types of meanings. The billboard was so controversial due to the fact that some Christians believe being gay is a sin.
Going back to the political spectrum, this billboard is another that has really shocked a few. No matter if you’re an Obama fan or not, there aren’t too many people out there who have the guts to say that he is a socialist and then compare him side-by-side to Adolf Hitler and Vladmir Lenin. But, the Tea Party in northern Ohio decided that Obama fit right in and decided to prove their point by putting his picture next to the other said leaders. Calling Obama one behind Democratic Socialism, the Tea Party was simply trying to express their disapproval for current policies .
However, fact is the billboard not only insults Obama, it insults those who voted for him, calling them naïve and fearful, and even in a sense insults the Tea Party itself. In the end the billboard was covered up very quickly as the party majority agreed that using a picture of Hitler was not the best way to get the party’s point across. Once the billboard came down, the party agreed to put another one up that wasn’t so controversial and wouldn’t get the wrong point across.
5. “She’s Tired of Waiting”
When you think of a billboard for a jewelry store, you probably think of one that has a few images of the jewelry that is offered there as well as some catchy slogan that will hopefully draw in business. You may even see a person or two wearing said jewelry or something of that nature. However, when it comes to Robbins Diamonds, you’re sure to be a little shocked at their advertising methods. The company decided to run a billboard that was aimed towards males, especially those in serious relationships who haven’t popped ‘the question’ yet. The billboard simply says “she’s tired of waiting,” which of course is nothing bad, but at first glance, the female in the picture looks like she’s giving you ‘the finger.’
While the billboard may have been done out of a sense of humor, a few were offended as if you take a quick glance, it really looks like the billboard is flipping you the bird. Of course, with a closer look, one realizes that it is the ring finger that the woman is holding up, not the middle, and simply, she’s sick of waiting! Do you think men got the message?
4. Lie is Short: Have An Affair
In most religions, adultery is looked down upon, and in some, it’s even cause to be executed. Though in Christianity it is a sin, in Islam, adultery can lead to lashes and even death by stoning. Dating back to the time of the Native Americans, any female who was caught having an affair would be mutilated, often to the point where a body part was entirely cut off so that she would no longer be considered a temptation. With all of that said, time has changed things greatly, and in today’s world, Ashley Madison has been able to create an online community that is devoted to cheating on ones’ spouse. The billboards have been put up in various locations and advertise joining ashleymadison.com.
Many see these billboards as being morally wrong while others think it is fair play. In the end, Ashley Madison has been able to make plenty of money off of people who pay to have an affair. In defense of the billboard, the company’s owner stated that with or without the adulterous billboards, cheaters will still cheat.
3. Black Children are an “Endangered Species”
In today’s world as well as in the past, abortion has always been a widely discussed topic that brings about all different types of views and opinions. Some say it’s inhumane and murder while others say the woman has a choice to do what she feels is best for her. In any case, when it comes to this billboard, not only is there an anti-abortion message, the means to get this method out most definitely infuriated many. The billboard, which was put up in Georgia in February 2010 by a company named Georgia Right to Life spreads the message of anti-abortion, but it mainly targets African Americans, stating that black children are “endangered.”
In any case, it’s never a problem to speak out against abortion, but those who had to witness the sign were unimpressed with the fact that the racial side of it was also used. During the time that the billboard was put up, various groups based out of Georgia were rallying for legislation to be passed that would prohibit any company from soliciting a woman to have an abortion based on her race. In the end, abortion is a personal decision, not one that is made based on race.
2. All Religions are Fairytales
At first glance this billboard looks very innocent and childish and something that you’d see advertising some type of movie or maybe the latest toy craze. Who would think anything bad could come out of a billboard with a cute fairy with a smiling face? However, once this billboard came up, it didn’t stay for too long. It was put up a week before the Easter holiday and was used on a popular billboard that is often used as advertisement space for an Orange County, FL restaurant named Straubs. In any case, the billboard not only stirred up some controversy but it also resulted in a drop in business for Straubs, as many assumed it was the restaurant’s idea.
The company, MediaNet, who maintains the billboard said that they had no idea of the design or message on it and that somehow someone put it up without them knowing, probably in the middle of the night. Whatever the truth be, the billboard was very short lived, but we all know just how controversial religion talk can get.
1. P.E.T.A Billboards
When it comes to P.E.T.A and their messages, there isn’t a huge problem. But when you look at their methods of madness, you really start to wonder. Ever since the organization supporting animal rights and promoting vegetarianism as well as veganism began, one way to get their message out has been through billboards. In the end they all speak out against the eating of meat as well as the vegetarian lifestyle and overall anything pro-animal; ie: neutering and spaying.
The organization has a great way of somehow connecting two very unlikely events and then adding their own twist to it so that it fits their message. Who would have ever thought that the Tiger Woods’ sex scandal or TLC’S 19 Kids and Counting family The Duggar’s and spaying and neutering your cat or dog could be alike in any way? Ask P.E.T.A.
by Ash Ley