A few weeks ago, the Working Families Party sent out an email about a planned ad campaign aimed at Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Using parodies of the MTA’s ubiquitous service advisory signs, the WFP wanted to bring attention to the fact that Bloomberg had made some lofty campaign promises concerning transit in New York City but had failed to live up to those promises so far. Using the subway bullets to take jabs at the Mayor, the WFP proclaimed “OMFG” and “WTF?”
When these ads hit my inbox, I had a feeling the MTA would reject them. They resembled the service advisories, and the MTA would allege that the signs would confuse riders into thinking the authority itself endorsed the views expressed by the WFP. It is unsurprising, then, to read today that the MTA has rejected these ads on exactly those grounds. The agency will forego between $25-$50,000 and may incur a First Amendment challenge. But the ads, they say, are obscene.
The Daily News’ Pete Donohue has more:
Transit officials rejected the spots because the acronyms imply obscene language that many riders may find “offensive, improper or in bad taste,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. The ads also look too much like the real thing, using subway-line logos to form the suggestive acronyms, according to the MTA. Some riders might believe they are real authority bulletins, officials said – or that the authority agrees with the political message.
The Working Families Party was looking to spend $25,000 to $50,000 for a four-week run in the transit system, party spokesman Bryan Collinsworth said. “We were really hoping to put some pressure on the mayor,” Collinsworth said. “We think he controls a central piece of the puzzle.”
…Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna said the campaign was simply off track, in part because the mayor speaks out daily about the need for more transit funding. “Their anger on this issue is misdirected,” LaVorgna said. “They should be directing their anger to the state, which has yet to come up with a successful funding source for the MTA. They should be talking to the entity that controls the MTA, which is the state and the state Legislature.”