Thursday, January 26, 2006

Triad company refuses to work with LGBT group; refuses ad for community resources and movie festival

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MattHillNC.com Exclusive Originally posted 12:30pm, 01/26/2006 Last Updated: 1:45pm, 01/27/2006 See also Gay Greensboro business owner responds to Graffiti Ads bias in refusing LGBT ad Grafitti Ads, LLC, (www.graffitiads.com) a company based in Winston-Salem, NC, has refused to work with a local Triad LGBT group. Alternative Resources of the Triad (www.OUTGreensboro.com), on whose Board of Directors I sit, approached the company asking for a price guide for placing ads with them. "Graffiti Ads" are small ads which are placed alongside others in framed pictures. Mostly, the ads are hung in restrooms, bars, cafes and restaurants. The company responded with this email:
Thanks for inquiring about advertising with graffiti ads. We normally do not run ads that may be considered controversial in subject or graphic presentation. Before we discuss our rates, can you provide an idea of what you would want to feature on the ads? Thanks! Name Removed graffiti ads, LLC 445 Springdale Ave. Winston-Salem, NC 27104
After receiving this email, one of the Alternative Resources of the Triad (ART) Board members responded to the company with the ad and answering the questions of the company. Image Copyright Alternative Resources of the TriadThe ad which ART wanted to place with Graffiti Ads (pictured right, click for larger image) is in no way controversial. It includes no material of a political nature and its sole purpose is to make the community aware of LGBT-inclusive entertainment (Greensboro, OUt at the Movies) and resources for LGBT and straight allied college students and youth (QCYNT). The ad's main focus is ART's community resources website, OUTGreensboro.com. Even still, Graffiti Ads claims the content of the ad is too controversial. In a second email, the company reiterated their claim:
I discussed this with my partner, and unfortunately, we are afraid the subject is just too controversial for graffiti ads at this time. We will keep you in mind in case things change in the future. Thanks again for your interest. Regards, Name Removed graffiti ads, LLC 445 Springdale Ave. Winston-Salem, NC 27104
I do not believe for one second that they really think that the "subject is too controversial" because there is nothing controversial about the ad. Just like every other company or group ad, the ART ad is targeted toward a certain portion of the population. Those who are interested in the ad will read it and take in the information. Those who are not interested in the ad will glance at it and move on with their lives. In my opinion, Graffiti Ads is using the "controversial" claim as a way to get around what is obviously a bias toward LGBT people and LGBT-inclusive groups. What Graffiti Ads should have said, because this is what they really mean, is: "We do not want to accept an ad from an LGBT group because we do not agree with the aims of your group and we are not tolerant or accepting." Homosexuality may, in fact, be a controversial issue to some, but the great majority of people in Greensboro are tolerant and many are also accepting. The purpose of ART and the purpose of the ad is not to be controversial and we do not include anything controversial. I could definitely see being refused for an ad if we had included something relating to homoseuxality in a political manner, but we didn't. Because ART is a community resource, support, awareness and education group, we do not engage in political and controversial issues. Graffiti Ads (www.graffitiads.com) distributes their ads in numerous locations in Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Their distribution points can be viewed on their website at www.graffitiads.com/dist_points.php. It is important to note that many of their distribution points are businesses which are also listed on the community resources section of the OUTGreensboro.com website. The company also states: "Our boards allow you to target your customer by age, gender, income, lifestyle, geographic location and interest." They continue with: "You maintain complete control over where your ads are placed, the number of ads placed and the length of time they are displayed." Graffiti Ads' concern over the ART ad being "too controversial" is a horrible excuse for being bias. The Art ad targets certain customers by age, gender, income, lifestyle, geographic location and interest... just like every other company. If Graffiti Ads is worried about making others upset with this "controversial" ad then they are worrying too much. Since advertisers "maintain complete control" over the placement of the ads, do you think that ART would place the ad in a business known to be un-friendly, intolerant or unaccepting of LGBT people? I urge any person who reads this to urge Graffiti Ads' distribution points (listed on their website at www.graffitiads.com/dist_points.php) to stop allowing Graffiti Ads to place their products in their businesses. Graffiti Ads is not a tolerant or accepting business. EDIT: 11:48pm, 01/26/2006: There is a difference between Alternative Resources of the Triad (ART), Greensboro OUT at the Movies and QCYNT. Alternative Resources of the Triad is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit which sponsors and helps to coordinate Greensboro OUT at the Movies, an on-going LGBTQ and straight allied movie festival. QCYNT is also a project of ART. QCYNT has just been established in recent months and is overseen by an Advisory Board comprised, currently, of college students. QCYNT is also overseen by the ART Board of Directors, seeing as though QCYNT is a project of the group. Maybe this little edit will clarify things for some people out there in the "blogosphere". Other bloggers covering the issue: Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

21 Comments:

Hey Matt;

Nice article. You have laid out the details very well. Kudos.

On a side note, if one looks at http://www.graffitiads.com/ and looks closely at the sample ads they have on their page you will see an ad for “Sunless Tan”. This ad contains an obviously nude woman. It is indeed interesting that a computer mouse is controversial while a nude female is not.

-sgw
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2006 02:14:00 PM  
you don't think networking to youth is contraversial?
posted by Anonymous Chip Atkinson at 1/26/2006 03:54:00 PM  
They have the right to take only the ads that they wish to do so.
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2006 04:14:00 PM  
To Chip: The networking group for youth is for those students in our community who identify as LGBTQ or straight allied.

I know what you are trying to do... don't even start to insinuate that we are "recruiting". Just don't go there... if you do, it will only show your own ignorance.

To Anonymous: They may have the right to take only the ads they want... but the community, in return, has the right not to buy their products if they do not agree with the company's policies.
big mistake in thinking you know where I'm going. My comments are about why the ad is contraversial- not about the group itself. I commented about how I feel the ad may be read by many. It is contraversial.
posted by Anonymous Chip Atkinson at 1/26/2006 05:21:00 PM  
I would suggest you not advertise, then. I don't fault them for not taking the ad at all.
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/26/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Fault them for not taking the ad? Depends on your definition, I suppose.

I think they're within their rights not to.

But I think being afraid that taking money to advertise a group that draws together and forms and support system for gay youth - who kill themselves in larger numbers than any other group in America - is controversial but using female heterosexual sex appeal to sell products and services to heterosexuals is inconsistent at best and extreme ethical cowardice at worst.

I lean toward the latter.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chip, what would be your opinion if this was a Black Civil Rights organization aimed at the youth and they declined it? Would you say that's okay?
Beth- I beleive these folks are right to think the ad is contraversial. Would it make me mad to see it? No. Would I ban the ad? Probably not. Do I think the name Queer College and Youth is 'in your face' or over the top offensive? Yes.
posted by Anonymous Chip Atkinson at 1/27/2006 11:00:00 AM  
I think Joe is correct. The company has a right to decide what they want to accommodate. It is not inconceivable that there are advertisers who Matt would refuse on his blog or that OutGreensboro.com would refuse on its website. Same thing.

But Joe is also correct, as he pointed out on Ed Cone's blog, that the market (advertisers, audience and distribution points) have an equal right to respond to Graffiti Ads' decision with actions they deem appropriate.

I'm not sure of the value of advertising a web site on a bathroom wall anyway. Local blog advertising, where the audience is just a click away, may make more sense. I'd bet that most bloggers would probably run the ad too, although a few may choose not to.
Not to beat a dead horse, but it's absolutely true that the company can choose not to accept business from whomever they choose.

And I have the right not to do business with them. And to be loud about it.
It is spelled contrOversial. And I am sorry that the suggestion to browse a website is deemed as such. But we can agree to disagree with our respective views. And take corresponding action should we choose.
posted by Anonymous LB at 1/27/2006 01:42:00 PM  
They wouldn't have the legal right to turn a black customer away based on their race.

And they don't have the legal right turn away gay individuals based on their sexuality.

While this might be hard to prove since, the company is claiming its because of "controversial topics", its still wrong. For some reason too many people feel theres a big difference in those civil rights of previous groups (woman, blacks, Jews) and Gays. There isn't. Being gay is not a bad word, and it isn't anything that should have anything to do with business. If a church wanted to advertise "come be saved" on Graffiti ads, I would consider this controversial. Do I think it should not be allowed? Of course not, its Freedom of Speech, and perhaps that's the greatest infringement that this outlet of advertising is guilty of.
Just the word "queer" on the ad is contraversial.

Do you not think that Matt wouldn't be all over a website that used the word "queer" if he thought it was inappropiate??

How about a KKK ad with Graffiti. Would you not be offended by that?

Bottom line is, it's their business and THEY decide what ads they want to run and the ones they do not.

Call it "homophobia" if you want to, but it's not.

If its your right to run an ad with them, why not the KKK, or who ever else "deems their ad appropiate"?
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/27/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Queer is a reason not to accept an ad? If that's a good reason, then so is a man standing behind a naked woman holding her breasts, or a man and a woman kissing, or an ad that says "sex." Your bias is transparent.
posted by Blogger Sam B at 1/28/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Hey Anonymous,

"Bottom line is, it's their business and THEY decide what ads they want to run and the ones they do not."

Just in case you were confused as to where you lived...Greensboro, NC. Greensboro is known to have a very large and vibrant GLBT population. There are plenty of businesses in this community that are tied to this part of the population, and those businesses advertise with Graffiti Ads. If it's their business who they let onto their boards then they also need to think about the consequences with making such a controversial decision (i.e. not running the ad). Consequences that include businesses taking away their business and concerned members and supporters of the population making their sentiments known. Integration didn't happen without events like the Woolworth's Sit in. Matt Hill's vision for our country won't happen without our voices loudly bringing attention to situations like these.

~Sarah
Raleigh, NC
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/28/2006 10:43:00 PM  
i am very familiar with graffiti ads, their position and the character of the owners....what i am concerned about is the attack on them on a very personal level

to suggest they are homophobic is absolutely absurd...but bottom line is they have the right to refuse to advertise anything THEY determined to be controversial.....this is their decision and i know they are perfectly comfortable with it.....if it effects their business they are fine with that.....after all this is america and we have our freedoms.....

what concerns me more is the coordinated attack by the homosexual community on a small business without any concern for the truth.....i guess it is just another example of how truth does not have a chance when an agenda is more important
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/01/2006 10:41:00 AM  
Sure, they have a right to refuse ads. In turn, GAY business owners and allies have the right to refuse to do business with them as well. If Graffiti had been up front and honest and not changed their story after they were confronted, a lot of this would never have happened. Being a GWM and knowing now that Graffiti will not post a gay ad, I have every right to choose not to do business with those that now choose to do business with them.
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/02/2006 11:13:00 AM  
honestly you are correct and that is what makes this a great country......

and btw graffiti was up front with their policy....

it is just a shame that the lgbt community has to be radical in their approach to their agenda....quite honestly if there was civil discourse between parties, prejuidices would not be developed.....

as a straight white male the idea that the gay community has to legitimize their behavior under the guise of discrimination makes me sad
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/02/2006 01:05:00 PM  
I don't see how any of these actions are discriminatory towards the company.

If you have never been harassed or physically attacked or had FAG yelled at you, then you can't have the same feelings about the situation as a gay person does.
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/02/2006 03:19:00 PM