31 July 2014

Kids > Advertising

Photo by Haan-Fawn Chau
My latest piece on Zócalo Public Square: Your Edgy Billboard Is My Kid’s Nightmare. An abridged version of the article appeared in Time. I discuss the billboards advertising FX’s show, “The Strain,” that frightened young children all over Los Angeles, and respond to the CEO, John Landgraf, who said, “We had to terrify some children in order to launch this show, but I think it was worth it. Just saying.”

If you care about this issue, here are more resources:

1. Sign the MoveOn petition, “Ban Violence and Sex on Billboards (California)

2. Join the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (national)

3. Support Ban Billboard Blight and follow their calls for action (Los Angeles)

To take action on an offensive outdoor advertising campaign in your city:

1. First, call the company responsible for the ad campaign (in this case, FX) to demand that the ad copy be replaced with less offensive content. Be sure to follow up. FX announced that the ads for “The Strain” would be pulled, but most remained up until after the show's premiere nearly a month later. 

2. Call your city council to complain about the ad campaign and urge the council to put additional pressure on the media company to pull the offensive copy. The council will be effective and responsive in direct proportion to the number of constituents who call in.

3. To target a specific billboard, call the outdoor advertising company that owns the billboard. 

4. Continue to advocate for stronger regulations on outdoor advertising.


  1. Thanks for making the public aware of this important topic, Anoosh! The callous reactions of John Landgraff and Guillermo del Toro show a complete lack of humanity. Our kids' happiness shouldn't be part of the cost of doing business for these media companies. We need some rules against this! (--HFC)

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  3. Owh this billboard seems a li'l weird and brutal.However such offensive advertising should be regulated and should be taken care of that it does not offend the public interest regardless of what the purpose for the advertisement was .I agree with you ,the Outdoor Billboard companies should be sincere regarding this issue.Thanks for sharing the post.

  4. Hi Anoosh, I recently reread this article on Time and since I too live in LA w/ young kiddos agree with your view entirely. It is October and Universal Studios Hollywood Horror Nights billboards are flooding the streets (along with my Hulu account commercials) and my 2 girls (8&4 y/o) often have their faces in their hands. My 8 year old, after seeing the most recent zombie Hollywood Horror nights ad said "I hate having my birthday in October. Its the worst time of year." I wonder what you think of the seasonal onslaught of gore porn that is smeared on the billboards here. I appreciate the links you provided in the article to the ODA_Act_&_Regulations and L.A.-Sign-Manual PDF's. It seems that LA is a shambles in terms of billboard regulation, but i agree that the definition of obscene, indecent and immoral imagery should include horror gore. What would you suggest to take this to the next level of activism on behalf of protecting our kids' overly worked cortisol distributing systems?

  5. Even if you didn't care about the fact that it scares kids, who the heck wants to see gorey stuff like that on their daily commute? I certainly don't. I understand the whole "shock and awe" strategy for advertising, but I just don't think this was very tasteful to say the least.

    Fred | O'Malley Hansen Communications

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