By now, you have probably have seen all sorts of versions for the viral #PaintTheirHandsBack campaign for the gay couple’s picture of Bench’s “Love All Kinds Of Love”. You have probably said your piece about the issue or even painted the couple’s hands to join the campaign.
But with so much going on in this campaign, some people are questioning whether Bench had just faked the controversy so the ad will create a buzz [and the company will be the talk of town for days, of course].
It was deemed perfect for Valentine’s Day. Bench created a compelling ad celebrating all kinds of love. There was the platonic love between a grandmother and her grandson [Gloria Romero and Chris Gutierrez], between a heterosexual couple [Nico Bolzico and Solenn Heussaff], between a lesbian couple [Carla Peña and Ana Paredes], and between a gay couple [Nino Gaddi and Vince Uy].
The move was received with much pleasure by the LGBT community who had always struggled for acceptance in the Philippines.
StyleBible posted a photo of the “undefaced” ad; though blogger FinanceMD claimed this was merely an artist’s concept but was not a real photo of the billboards.
With the billboards standing several feet tall, it was hard not to miss the blackened hands of the gay couple. Naturally, the ad board was the one who was blamed for the censorship because 1) why would Bench blacken their own ad and 2) the billboards were so high and so huge that even Banksy [a famous graffiti artist] would have a rather difficult time painting on those gigantic hands.
People noticed the blackened hands, of course, but it was art director Rob Cham who sparked the campaign when he drew Mickey Mouse hands over the blackened part of the photo. He hashtagged the angry tweet with #PaintTheirHandsBack, something which quickly caught on. Twitter users soon had the hashtag trending. They also posted their own versions of the drawing.
The Fake Controversy?
FinanceMD was not sold to the idea that it was either the ad board or a vandal who painted over the gay ad. He pointed out how the ASC (Ad Standard Council) adamantly maintained they had no hand at censoring the ad.
This is the statement of ASC executive director Mila Marquez:
We are always adhering to prevailing moral and social standards of the country. We believe advertisements should not be offensive, derogatory nor should [they] alienate certain sectors of the community.
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.
We had discussion with them particularly because they put up the billboards without clearance to display. If at all, they were given approval to produce it. If ever there is violation, the violation is more procedural than conceptual.
The ASC is not a censorship body. What we’re promoting is self-regulation, meaning clients and ad agency are the ones who should also regulate themselves.
Even ASC’s director believes it was Bench who painted over the hands of the gay couple. After all, just as FinanceMD had pointed out, the ad was too high and too large that it would take special equipment and a “truckload of paint” for a vandal to do the job. Would an ordinary vandal have the means to do that? And it’s not as if the ad was shocking and very offensive.
So, was it really Bench who faked the controversy to create a buzz? Unless someone would admit to defacing that ad and then tell us how he did it without getting noticed, then this question would always be stuck in our minds.