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).
This was the gay couple billboard in the Guadalupe area near the boundary of Mandaluyong and Makati cities. See the difference?
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”.
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 stylebible.ph
“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 stylebible.ph, 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:
The actual photo of the billboards:
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
*To comment, just type away, NO need to type your name and email