Love All Kinds of Love: Did Bench Create a Fake Controversy With its Gay Couple Billboard Ad?

The “Love All Kinds of Love” ad campaign by Bench (a Philippines’ based clothing brand) is heating up social media with its “defaced” billboard featuring a gay couple. Was the billboard vandalized? Was the billboard censored? or Did Bench marketing staff do the defacing themselves to generate controversy? Is other words, is #PaintTheirHandsBack just an elaborate gimmick?

The Philippines is home to more than 100 million people, so there must be a lot of gay people in the country. Fashion is also one of the industries that seem to be gay tolerant. Bench, a Philippines based clothing brand that now has an international presence, unveiled its ad campaign just in time for Valentine’s. The campaign, titled “Love All Kinds of Love”, featured platonic love between a grandmother (veteran Filipina actress Gloria Romero) and her grandson, and romantic love between straight, gay and lesbian couples.

This was the gay couple ad photo. It features Vince Uy and Nino Gaddi (whoever they may be, since they are not even remotely famous in the Philippines).

Bench Gay Couple in Love All Kinds of Love Ad Campaign
I wonder why they only got the “of” in ‘Love All Kinds of Love”. They deserved a more important word in that phrase. Image by Bench


This was the gay couple billboard in the Guadalupe area near the boundary of Mandaluyong and Makati cities. See the difference?

Bench Gay Couple Guadalupe Billboard in Love All Kinds of  Love ad Campaign
I’m sure no one will notice the hands if you blacken them out, right? Image from @vince_uy from Twitter


The Philippines may be a Catholic majority country, but gays and gay couples are omnipresent here. In fact, the most popular slang language in the country is gay lingo, a dialect that most straight men and women understand or speak in varying degrees. A billboard, with a gay couple holding hands in it, may be surprising but not shocking.

On February 13, social media was abuzz with the defacing of the gay billboard. The ‘holding hands’ was painted over. There was even a hashtag #PaintTheirHandsBack on twitter. Different “artists” gave different renditions in depicting the “holding hands”.

Rob Cham Mickey Mouse Hands Bench Gay Billboard
Mickey Mouse hands with wedding rings version of the billboard. Image by @robcham on Twitter


Was the billboard vandalized?

I doubt that. Personally, I haven’t seen the billboard without the black paint. In my opinion, it was probably like that at the start. Vandalizing the billboard is also not feasible, the billboard is larger than an average building (see the picture), and the “holding hands” part  is as large as a house. A vandal would need a truck of black paint, sophisticated hoisting equipment, and hours just to paint over that area. He would also have to carry a monstrous brush to do it.


Was the billboard censored by the ASC?

The ASC (Ad Standard Council) maintains that it did not censor the billboard. Here is what Mila Marquez, executive director of ASC said about the issue.

“This particular series was not blurred by ASC. We were surprised they blurred it… Possibly because they think they will be given approval if they do that.”

This is what Bench Advertising and Promotions Manager, Jojo Liamzon told

“The ad board thinks holding hands is too gay.”

I doubt if any self respecting Ad board will ask an advertiser to blacken out parts of an ad. They’ll probably just ask for another less “controversial” photo and I’m sure Bench has a lot more pictures.


Did Bench ‘blacken out’ the billboard on purpose?

Did the staff at Bench purposely blur the “holding hands” to generate controversy? Was this all part of an elaborate gimmick? The Philippines may be a Catholic majority country, but gays and gay couples are omnipresent here. In fact, the most popular slang language in the country is gay lingo, a dialect that most straight men and women understand or speak in varying degrees. A billboard, with a gay couple holding hands in it, may be surprising but not shocking. Maybe Bench decided to give the campaign a little “push”?

Personally, I’m surprised at how quick the “reaction” of the “artists” are. Did they know about this in advance? Visual artists took many days or even weeks before they created or dedicated something for the “fallen 44 SAF men”. The issue of the deaths of the SAF men has been the most popular topic in the country for many weeks now.

I’m also surprised at how quick the write ups about this issue were put up almost simultaneously in blogs everywhere. Was this organic (it might be) or was this a result of a well-coordinated media campaign?

It is worth noting that the website that’s drum beating this controversy is, the online counterpart of Preview fashion magazine. Vince Uy, one of the gay guys in the ad, is Preview magazine’s creative director. Strange coincidence or not? The website even put up a clearly fake photo of the “undefaced” billboard.


‘Conceptual’ photo of the billboards:

Style Bible Version of "Undefaced" Bench Billboard
This is obviously an “artist’s perspective” of the billboards and not a photo of the actual ones. Image from 


The actual photo of the billboards:

Bench Love all kinds of love billboard guadalupe
The actual photo of the billboards. The billboards were put up with the gay couple’s hands already blackened out. In other news, the tenants of those buildings are probably not so happy with their “back of billboard” views. Image from @iloveraymon at Twitter


I hope that Bench did not intentionally create an issue to generate a controversy at the expense of gay people. It’s one thing to support the LGBT community, it’s another to use them for a gimmick.

That is assuming, of course, that gay people still care about the brand Bench. If they still do, the bigger question is… do the Filipino gays still shop at Bench?. They’re probably busy shopping for more stylish – but just as affordable – clothes at Uniqlo, H&M, Forever21 and Zara.


Happy Valentine’s Day.


– Finance MD

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Finance, M.D.

Finance, M.D. is a practicing physician who dabbles in finance and investment. He has passed all three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams, all in his first attempts.

25 thoughts on “Love All Kinds of Love: Did Bench Create a Fake Controversy With its Gay Couple Billboard Ad?”

  1. Ive seen the actual billboad without the black paint just a week ago. So it definitely wasnt like that from the start. I read somewhere that one of the outtakes of this gay couple from their shoot nwas more intimate than the photo above but didnt make it to the final cut because of some rules of the Ad board. Just getting the facts straight.


  2. Artists were not contacted previously. The meme became viral because the people initially involved are well-connected on social media, plus the content is something people feel strongly about. It was not coordinated.


  3. Love All Kinds Of Love

    How else would you separate the words for a more effective output? Do you think that the vandalized billboard should have “Kinds Of” written on it?

    These billboards have had the same shape and size ever since and I believe that tha vandalized billboard only had one word on it because aesthetically, it was the only option. That particular billboard is narrower compared to the rest.

    I think this article is full of assumptions based on an uneducated opinion on graphic design.


  4. Some input, albeit unsolicited.
    Bench is not as affordable as zara, uniqlo etc. it’s a lot cheaper!

    Vince Uy is slightly famous, although far from being a celeb.

    And the “of” criticism is too much.


    1. I think what he meant for the “OF” criticism was that they can switch solenn’s photo with vince’s. If they did, this blog could have contained less suspicious insights.

      BTW. I like how this blogger thinks. So out of the box. 🙂 Not that I’m saying all he said was true but at least he gave us another perspective.


  5. If this is indeed some sort of marketing ploy, then it’s sad. But I think the point here is that it brought up a harsh reality in our society – that most Pinoys still have not accepted the fact that these relationships exist. I’m actually happy that it created the buzz that it did whatever the circumstances behind it may be.


  6. This campaign material was just installed during the week of Feb 9. The comment saying the billboard was black paint-free a week ago may be inacurrate. Last Feb 8, the material was still Kim Chiu, Kathryn and Julia. Just saying.


  7. Though also suspicious if the blackening of the hands is a stunt, as a friend of the person who started the hashtag #painttheirhandsback I can assure you 100% that he is not part of the Bench company in any way nor is he a supplier nor was he paid. It spread because he is well connected and because it’s a worthwhile cause.


  8. Dont forget that there’s Bench’s ad agency that’s involved here too. I wouldn’t put it past them to create an ad campaign like this and the subsequent “controversy” that followed. The hashtag is a little too “we need to make it viral”-y.

    But then again, this couldn’t be entered in awards shows IF they made it up. That would be admitting it.


  9. If the asc/ad board states that thry did not censor this, then who did? If this was not a “marketing ploy”, then Bench should really paint their hands back.


    1. i have the same thoughts as the author..dear in this world of viral memes and controversial posts, publicity people are always ahead of the pack…the well-connected people are, the well-coordinated everything will turn out and yes, a great success of this shitty brand campaign to go off the charts.


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