Legal Sea Foods Ads Banned In Boston

Legal Sea Foods launched a seemingly harmless campaign in May that landed the company in hot water.

Five different ads, created by DeVito/Verdi, were posted on the sides of the Green Line trolley in Boston, featuring different types of fish hurling insults at passersby. In this case, it wasn't the passersby that took offense to the creative; the conductors did.

Two of the five ads were deemed offensive in the eyes of the conductors' union, with a request that they be removed.

The offending copy? "This conductor has a face like a halibut" and "Bite me." At least they weren't compared to monkfish. Has a face only a mother could love.

It gets better. Legal Sea Foods then launched a radio ad apologizing to conductors. And by apologize, I mean the ad referred to the faces of conductors as resembling groupers and flounders, as opposed to halibut, the original offending fish.

The conductors' union called for a boycott of Legal Sea Foods. The company retaliated with a full-page ad that offered a free fish entrée to conductors.

Then there's that issue with the two offending ads. Now that they were taken down, there was room for two new ads. You know where this is going.

Rather than run older, non-offending creative, two ads were produced. More accurately, the offending ads were tweaked.

The talking fish remained -- but its original insults were covered by the word "censored."

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said the new ads could potentially violate its advertising guidelines, but decided after a week that the ads could run without resistance.

Is anyone else surprised by the amount of hemming and hawing involved in a seafood campaign? I'd expect more action stemming from a campaign using gratuitous nudity.

1 comment about "Legal Sea Foods Ads Banned In Boston".
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  1. John Vickary from l'Attitude Business Development, April 13, 2009 at 6:04 p.m.

    Methinks the conductors were being just a wee bit precious here.

    And what's wrong with a bit of gratuitous nudity, anyway?

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