Metrobus has pulled an ad deemed offensive by a mental health advocacy group.
And the St. John’s transit system is acknowledging the ad violates the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, and admits proper protocol wasn’t followed.
The ad for the Orange Store reads “We smile a lot because we like you, not because we’re crazy.”
The provincial executive director for CHANNAL — Consumers' Health Awareness Network Newfoundland And Labrador — copied The Telegram on a letter she sent Metrobus earlier today.
“We are very alarmed to find that Metrobus is allowing advertising on its buses that is offensive to individuals living with mental health issues,” Karon-Ann Parsons wrote.
“The terminology in this particular advertisement casts a negative connotation on individuals living with mental illness and encourages the thought that ‘crazy people’ smile all the time and therefore we at the Orange Store need to make sure you are aware that we are not one of ‘those people.”’
She also noted many people who have mental illness ride the Metrobus.
“Imagine how a person with a mental health issue feels every time they get on one of your buses knowing that if they smile everyone will know they are ‘crazy’ and that Metrobus, as the owner of the bus, agrees with this belief.”
Within minutes of that first email, Parsons sent The Telegram a response from Metrobus’s Mark Chancey, manager of marketing and information services.
“We pulled the ads from our buses on Monday night, July 25, and advised the advertiser that we were doing so,” he wrote less than 30 minutes after Parsons’ message was sent.
“We follow the provisions set out in the the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards to gauge an ad. Once we were made aware of the ad, we pulled it because in our view, it violates provision 14 of the code, ‘Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals.’ Unfortunately, proper protocol was not followed in this case and I would like to personally apologize for this and assure you that we will strictly follow protocol with respect to the posting of ads to avoid a similar situation in the future.”
For more on this story, see Thursday’s paper or Smart Edition.