By Charley Griffiths
Opinions have been split over the removal of an advert for gay cruising website ‘Squirt.org’ from two Cardiff bus stops. Removal complaints from the public have branded it ‘inappropriate’. Since then, Squirt.org have hit back at the public, saying the decision raised questions of sexual discrimination.
Attila Szatmari, the digital business director of Squirt’s parent company, told Wales Online: “What is not known is whether people are taking exception to the promotion of casual sex or gay casual sex”, as the advert was approved by the Advertising Standards Agency. Plus, the advert hasn’t been removed from other cities such as Manchester, Glasgow, London and Edinburgh.
Now, I would understand the cries of homophobia if the advert was simply two men holding hands (which in my opinion would be a perfectly acceptable method to advertise a gay dating app). But the advert clearly promotes casual sex. It pictures two men, one with his shirt open pulling the tie of the other man (holding a tablet), with ‘Non-stop hookups’ written in large letters underneath. And the name of the site, Squirt! I mean come on. That raises enough inappropriate connotations on its own. I can’t help but think that the advert is kind of pointless anyway. In the internet age, if people wanted to seek out these sites, a simple Google search would do the trick. Advertising this at a bus stop isn’t productive in addressing its specific target market.
So in response so Szatmari’s comments, no it is not people hating on the advertising of gay sex, but just casual sex in general. If the advert was for a straight dating app, with a woman in her underwear wrapped around a topless man, my reaction would be the same. Any advert of this kind would be awkward to explain to a child: ‘Oh yes dear, lots of adults don’t like meaningful relationships!’ This is basically the real life equivalent of those weird online pop ups for ‘hot single mum’s in your area!’ Or, back in May 2015 when private bus company New Adventure Travel launched their bus service with a topless woman hiding her modesty with the slogan ‘Ride me all day for £3’. That was unacceptable, and so is the advertising a dating app branding itself as “a completely uncensored hookup/cruising site for gay, bi, and curious men who want to skip the pretence of dating and get right to the sex”. Charming.
I am not someone to advocate banning anything that could possible offend someone, but you have to admit that this advert has no place at a bus stop where anyone and everyone can see it. Essentially, I am fed up with the whole ‘sex sells’ mentality in general. If you have to resort to such desperate measures for your company to get attention, you can’t complain when people call you out on it.