Pulled Metrobus ad violated standards

Steve Bartlett
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Metrobus has pulled this sign from its fleet. Submitted photo

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.


Twitter: bartlett_steve

Organizations: Orange Store, Health Awareness Network Newfoundland And Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Herb Morrison
    July 28, 2011 - 17:47

    Speaking as a person who has had to deal with a serious mental health issue, the main thing that I find offensive in this situation is the fact that an organization like CHANNL takes it upon itself to represent my interests without my consent. Regardless of how well-intentioned the actions of this organization's members might be, within the context of this situation, what gives anyone connected with CHANNL the right to unilaterally speak for me simply because I have a history of mental illness. I wish that I could afford access to legal counsel. It might be interesting indeed to see how such a case would play out in a court of law. The idea that I am incapable of representing my own interests because of a history of a mental health issue, as is implied by the actions of CHANNL, is preposterous. Is there any legislation in place to deal with organizations, which might be violating human rights?

  • Shannon Reardon
    July 28, 2011 - 12:04

    The fundamental problem I have with this ad is that it seems to refer not only to those who are mentally ill with serious debilitating illnesses, but to those who may have cognitive and/or other mental challenges. Had the company really tried, I am sure they could have come up with a more clever and less inflammatory ad.

    • Rob
      July 28, 2011 - 12:46

      The only thing that's inflammatory is the overreaction of CHANNAL in this instance. Mental health issues are very serious, and the stigma attached to them just won't go away. However when people go "crazy" over such a small issue, the real problems get buried in hysterics, and the stigma gets reinforced. No, CHANNAL was wrong here.

    • Shannon Reardon
      July 28, 2011 - 13:07

      Obviously something was wrong and inflammatory, or else Metrobus would have left it.

    • Davey J
      July 29, 2011 - 15:45

      Out of curiosity do you also rally on the behalves of foxes? Apparently they're quite crazy as well you know. I honestly mean no disrespect, but I think you're reaching quite deep to find something offensive here. If anything you're actually going out of your way to find offence over something so banal. Frankly the only thing I find offensive about this whole thing is that some nitwit would presume to be offended on my behalf. Thank you oh so much for deciding what's best for the rest of us "crazy" people. This sign wasn't about people with mental illness until you decided to make it so. "Obviously something was wrong and inflammatory, or else Metrobus would have left it." I don't agree with that statement at all. I imagine if enough people complained about the colour red, Metrobus would simply remove any signs with the offending colour. It's not that Metrobus agrees one way or another about the sign itself, they're simply trying to sweep it under the rug as quickly as possible.

  • Two cents worth
    July 27, 2011 - 21:52

    To Pamela hawco=== I agree totally. Liquor and Beer advertising is allowed while smokes has to be hidden. What about the effects of drinking on families ,young children and the public in general. Drunk driving, abuse at home----wouldn't this be considered second hand drinking. Maybe drinking around children (ie. at home ,camping, no house parties where children are present) should be disallowed. Just saying.

  • GetAClue
    July 27, 2011 - 21:20

    Hey ANON, how are you so sure that the mental health groups are represented by people who are not living with mental health concerns? You and many others who wrote comments here are very ignorant on the issue yet you are on here, making all kind of statements and judgements. I support this ad being pulled, it IS offensive to persons living with mental health concerns, and I am alarmed that the Orange Store would place such an add and ESPECIALLY that metrobus would not follow proper advertising standards to screen the ad. I think a donation to mental health group would be a good start to repairing this mistake.....

  • Crazy Bayman
    July 27, 2011 - 20:29

    This is a bit much! This reminds me of the situation that happened a few months ago regarding a certain Dire Straits song. We all listened to the word "f@#got" in Money for Nothing for 26 years without a peep from anyone. Then somebody from NL complained to the Canadian Broadcasts Standards Council and it got banned from air in Canada (making international headlines and embarrassing me as a Newfoundlander). Maybe well have to ban all songs with the word Crazy in it. Or dub all existing songs switching Crazy with Foolish. Then we'd have Ozzy (Foolish Train, Foolish Babie), The Judds (Momma he's Foolish) and Heart (Foolish on You). Jeez Louise! People have way too much time on their hands worrying about this BS. And another thing!! If you think I am getting rid of my brand new studded snow tires.... Your Fn Foolish!

  • Paula
    July 27, 2011 - 20:12

    Speaking from someone who experiences Mental Illness, I thank god that there is such an organization who is out there advocating on my behalf for those of us who are afraid to speak up. The individuals who are attacking CHANNAL obviously don't have or understand mental health issues. WHY DON'T YOU EDUCATE YOURSELF!

  • yo mama
    July 27, 2011 - 20:10

    All the losers and geeks from back in the day are running the country now, that's the problem. WIMPS!

  • Scanlan
    July 27, 2011 - 19:21

    Not sure if my first comment was deemed "offensive", or if I failed to submit it correctly. Hmm... I'll submit this one the same way & see if it's published...

    July 27, 2011 - 18:59

    Um... is "crazy" a medically defined term? If I have an ad that says "Crazy Deals at ABC Electronics!!" Am I going to offend someone? I could understand if the ad said "We smile at you because we like you, now because we suffer from an acute form of manic depression", but the term "crazy" is part of our everyday language. On a related point, does CHANNAL receive funding from the Provincial Government? Cause I can think of many better ways we could be spending our tax payers money instead of paying someone to get on with this craziness.

  • thumper
    July 27, 2011 - 18:14

    Such sensitive times we live in.

  • Colin Burke
    July 27, 2011 - 16:55

    The intellectual and emotional levels of the mentally ill ought not to serve as the "default" standards of a whole society of people presumed to be sane. I myself have more in common with Renee J. than with mental health advocates who object to the ad in question. Many of my acquaintance know just how much I have had in common with the mentally ill, but I prefer reticence about the details to advancing an opinion anonymously.

    July 27, 2011 - 16:21

    well i for one do have a mental disability, but in saying that i know alot of so called sane people who are more "out of tune " with reality that i probably ever will be !!! I once thought that one of CHANNELS things was try to reduce the stigma behind the issue of mental disablilities . Sad day for sure , the director has taken it all outve context totally ...coming from someone who is lucid and able to understand the difference ..Part of dealing with a mental disability is having the ablility as a person to be able to understand your disorder, which also means knowing that something as simple as a sign does not mean exact;y what it says in terms of YOU. I think CHANNEL should rethink their mission statements ...Thank -you >>>still "SMILING"

  • Jen
    July 27, 2011 - 15:31

    This is ridiculous! It's just a cute little ad from the orange store! There are so many people with mental health issues, I'm one of them and I definately was not offended! I'm sure that no one even really paid much attention to it until one person went crazy!....oops sorry, was that offensive? i just can't believe that something so little as this garnered so much attention! what has our society come to? clearly some people are oversensitive, obviously you can tell the difference between something serious, and something not, what a waste of time for the telegram to even print! Guess news was slow that day!

  • Anon
    July 27, 2011 - 15:26

    "She also noted many people who have mental illness ride the Metrobus." You can say that again. You'd have to be to pay the fare. What bothers me, is the mental health community is A) Represented by people who are not mentally ill and B) hurting themselves by making a big deal of this sort of thing. They are essentially reserving the word crazy for themselves. Much like the Homosexual community has by scalding the "offensive use of the word 'gay'" which has essentially come to describe pretty much everything that isn't a homosexual much like the term "retard" which has come to describe pretty much everything that isn't mentally retarded. eg. " My cell phone company charged me too much money, what a bunch of (redacted)" or "Yeah Game 7 was totally (redacted), the calls sucked and then the fans got all sookey and rioted, what a bunch of (redacted)" Most of this comment will be censored if not completely banned and so I have myself taken the liberty of redacting certain words even though the context they're used in illustrates perfectly modern uses of the words. 'gay', 'retard','lunatic'. I was a youngster when the "crazy daisy" sprinkler started soaking children all over north america. I don't ever recall anyone calling it offensive, nor do they call it offensive today. It's all about context people. Context (telegram i shouldn't have to refresh the capcha ten or more times to find something that looks remotely like english, stop bein a bunch of (redacted) and get something that works... see: vocm).

  • rhymeswithorange
    July 27, 2011 - 15:01

    and what about the ad "happiness is a convenience store where your shoes don't stick to the floor"-I,, as a self confessed dirtbag, find this utterly unacceptable.Mock dirt and you mock me!!

  • Kent
    July 27, 2011 - 14:24

    I think political correctness has run amuck in this country.

    • greg
      July 27, 2011 - 15:08

      Go for a walk, or better yet take a hike.

  • Abbey
    July 27, 2011 - 14:23

    Political correctness, notwithstanding, the terms crazy, nuts, etc. can be very disturbing to individuals suffering mental illness even if meant in jest (by people who have never experienced such an illness) as it tends to trivialize their condition. Society in general, including the media, should be much more sensitive before using such terms. If they were in a clinical depression, I don't think they would find such words very uplifting.

  • Shannon Reardon
    July 27, 2011 - 14:07

    I can be self-deprecating with the best of them and love to laugh. But I fail to see any humour in directly/indirectly offending a segment of society that suffers greatly. I wonder would people find it similarly light-hearted and funny if there was an ad from this company stating something like: "Here at Orange Store, we stand on both feet before you because, well, we aren't cripples." Yes, that is very funny indeed. The only good thing that has come of this is discussion, but that is all.

    • DANNO
      July 28, 2011 - 19:32

      You're completely wrong here. Crazy doesn't mean handicapped. It means many things. Crazy deals, crazy as in wild... crazy as in sinister, etc etc... 'Cripples' is completely different. Channal are basically the ONLY people here equating the usage of crazy with mental illness. Are whacky wheatleys allowed to advertise anywhere? ever? What about Wall-Nuts ? WHat about the million movies/books that reference a 'crazy look in his eyes'... do you think he looks handicapped? No. Thats just plain silly.

  • AP
    July 27, 2011 - 13:34

    Maybe I should have made myself a little clearer in an earlier comment. I do have a severe mental illness and I have worked in mental health. If we can't all learn to laugh at things, ourselves and the general bull of life then we all have a problem. I know many people that I would consider "crazy" who have never had a mental illness and many who are clear and lucid and do. One is not equal to the other. When someone who does not know I have a mental illness looks at me and says I am "crazy" I always reply back "You have no idea!!" It's fun and I can laugh at myself. I have also gotten a great kick in life when confronted by an individual who rants and raves about a topic like a "mad-person" and there is no mental illness in sight. Life is fun folks, treat it that way and appreciate humour no matter how bad the attempt.

  • Scanlan
    July 27, 2011 - 13:23


  • MudderL
    July 27, 2011 - 13:01

    I guess political correctness has taken out the need for humor in society. Lighten up already. I don't find it offensive, funny yes, but not offensive.

  • Anonymous
    July 27, 2011 - 12:57

    A lot of people complain about boring and lame commercials, but as soon as the Orange Store puts up an advertisement that's actually interesting they have to put up with this politically correct nonsense. I like the Orange Store (and so do a lot of others, there was an article about them here in the telegram a few weeks ago), and this isn't the first odd/interesting advertisement I've seen from them. Well done, I say! I for one refuse to give in to this PC nonsense. After reading this article I plan do more shopping at Orange Store.

  • Mindy
    July 27, 2011 - 12:41

    Thumbs up to Renee J. Political Correctness ...... Is gone to far, starting to push most over the edge or am I aloud to say that "pushing over the edge".??? It is time to lighten up .... life is happening and passing you by while you are wound soooo tight. Stop reading so much into a statement and take it for what it really means,

  • Marilyn
    July 27, 2011 - 12:39


    • pamela hawco
      July 27, 2011 - 12:59

      I think that the buses that are driving around with the Bud Light and Captain Morgan all over their bus should be changed. Smokes have to be hidden in a store so children cant see them, yet these buses are going around promoting booze!! I'm sure there are kids who ride that bus every day!

  • Shannon Reardon
    July 27, 2011 - 12:25

    I would say that the vast majority of those who are being nonchalant about this and about CHANNAL's advocacy have not suffered from any type of illness like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, or anything, hence their cavalier attitude about this. It was an epic fail at humour with does offend at least some people. Again, it's not the use of the lone word "crazy", but the context in which it was used which perpetuates a stereotype that crazy people smile all the time because they are not lucid. And surely those employees "smiling all the time" at Orange Stores are not "those" (crazy) people. And, as I already said, Metrobus did right.

  • Peter
    July 27, 2011 - 12:04

    The Orange Store seems to have plenty of 'humourous' ads/signs lately. For example, there's a no parking sign at one of their locations that says they have the right to send your car to space if you park there. Or something of that nature anyway.

  • OMG
    July 27, 2011 - 11:59

    Some people have too much time on their hands, uh-oh, that's probably offensive to people who don't have hands.

    • Duggan
      July 27, 2011 - 12:35

      Congratulations on the best post to this thread!!! Good, honest humor that illustrates your point. Well Done!

  • Sue G
    July 27, 2011 - 11:50

    I agree with Renee. It is the executive director of CHANNEL that is being offensive to people with Mental Health Issues - Not the Metrobus Ad.

  • AP
    July 27, 2011 - 11:43

    Some of us are crazy and some of us are not- just because i have a mental illness does not mean that I am crazy and I take no offense to the word. Political Correctness is overblown at times when a joke and a play on words can actually be fun!! CHANNAL should find better things to do with it's time and resources. Some of us don't take offense to every little word said but do see where money could be better spent by CHANNAL.

  • Amac
    July 27, 2011 - 11:33

    I agree with Renee and I'm sure that nobody meant to offend anybody with mental health issues. I think the ad was interpreted the wrong way. Metrobus resolved the issue immediately, so I think it's sad that Ms. Parson's asked to have this article printed.

  • JetsGo
    July 27, 2011 - 11:18

    Bravo Renee....great comment

  • Andrew
    July 27, 2011 - 11:17

    This is a bit rediculous, I must say..I completly agree with Renee J on this one. Just because you have one of many mental health disorders out there, doesn't classify you as being 'crazy'. If you're going to be standing in one spot with A massive grin on your face for a long period of time, you can generally either be classified as either 'crazy' (insane), or an employee at the Orange Store.

  • esron
    July 27, 2011 - 11:15

    I find the "We Say Hello, instead of grunting" Deeply offensive to my Neanderthal friends who lack the prover larynx to speak.... Seriously, grow up and get over it! It was a cute ad!

  • Bob
    July 27, 2011 - 11:12

    What a pile of crap! Nothing better than to find something out of nothing.....bloody drama queens and kings!

  • Shannon Reardon
    July 27, 2011 - 11:06

    The wording "smiling not because we're crazy" is what is offensive, not the word "crazy". It has to do with the context in which it was used, and that is clear here. It was an insensitive ad and a lame attempt at humour. Glad Metrobus did the right thing.

  • harry
    July 27, 2011 - 11:03

    you are right on renee someone from chanell must be sebnsetive to the ad themselves , i love smiling people no matter who or what they are karol ann parsons dosent smile i guess poor thing

  • luke masters
    July 27, 2011 - 11:01

    Political correctness is ruining society.

  • Renee J.
    July 27, 2011 - 09:53

    To the woman from CHANNEL.....I have mental health issues and I'm not crazy......you insinuate/assume people with mental health issues are crazy!!! You offend me....not the ad!

    • Deanie
      July 27, 2011 - 11:01

      I don't know if you noticed but the word 'crazy' has quotations around it...indicating it as being Metrobus/Orange Store's words and not that of CHANNAL. I don't think the CHANNAL representative is insinuating/assuming anything. Usually something doesn't offend us unless we identify with it on some personal level. Your comment just proves that this type of thing even perpetuates self-stigma, and needs to be combated---thank-you CHANNAL for addressing this on behalf of all individuals with mental health issues!

    • Jackie
      July 27, 2011 - 11:07

      AMEN to that Renee J!! That is so very true.