Wearing a bikini on the beach in Santa Monica is fine.
Wearing a bikini on an advertisement that’s plastered on a bus that’s owned by the city of Santa Monica? Not so much.
That’s the lesson the folks in the CW marketing department have learned the hard way. After spending a big chunk of change to plaster “Top Model” posters all over the sides of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Buses, the company that runs the city-owned busline has decided to rip out all of the posters.
Turns out that a number of people complained about the ads, and because the Big Blue Bus is a public entity, the company felt it had no choice but to pull them down.
“It’s a matter of public taste,” said Stephanie Negriff, director of transit services for the city. “We try to be sensitive to the community.”
Negriff didn’t say just how many complaints she got but said it was “enough of a number that it allowed me to make the decision.”
Ads show hopefuls from the next season of “Model,” along with host-exec producer Tyra Banks, clad in jungle-style bikinis. The same picture is being used in billboards plastered throughout the greater Los Angeles area, including Santa Monica.
At first blush, the complaints would seem to be at odds with Santa Monica’s rep as a bastion of liberal thought. But it seems most of the objections weren’t from delicate souls offended by the sight of a little skin on the city streets.
Instead, according to Negriff, protests came from people concerned that the city was somehow endorsing a show that may objectify women.
“We wouldn’t want to do anything that would disrespect women,” Negriff said.
The CW isn’t the first entertainment company to run into trouble with the Big Blue Bus. In recent years, the city has also nixed ads hyping “Nip/Tuck” and the feature “Ten Things I Hate About You.”
Meanwhile, even though the “Model” ads ran for two weeks before being yanked, the Big Blue Bus decided to refund all the coin the CW paid for the ads.
That could be why a spokesman for the weblet seemed nonplussed about the incident.
“It’s a jungle out there in bus marketing,” he said. “Even top models aren’t safe anymore.”