Fusion Media, SS+K Respond to Rejection of Their #AsAmericanAs Ads

By Patrick Coffee Comment

Who is an American, really?

We can feel you losing interest. But agency SS+K and client Fusion Media Group (which now owns what used to be Gawker and currently goes by Gizmodo) recently created an OOH campaign responding to that question with images of Americans like gay men kissing, drag queens posing and black babies wearing #BLM t-shirts that got rejected even in the snooty borough of Manhattan.

So they responded by placing big X’s over the images deemed too … whatever to run even on the Lower East fucking Side. The copy is a bit small here, but it reads, “See the images America wasn’t ready for.”

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Not sure that’s 100% accurate, but the details of this one are kind of interesting. The original billboards went on Essex Street in New York, 15th Street in Philadelphia, and a bus station in Stamford, Connecticut.

Here are the uncensored versions of those.

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According to the agency’s PR rep, the owner of the Manhattan building that featured one of the ads complained and got them taken down. The CT company approved the ones that don’t have X’s on them above but required Fusion and/or SS+K to sign a waiver accepting responsibility for any graffiti-related expenses. And Philly’s SEPTA rejected most of them, eventually stating that they couldn’t run a billboard of two dudes kissing because it featured male nipples, though you may notice that the tattooed rapper below is topless. Hmm.

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Here’s the one they eventually placed in New York after all that stuff went down.

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Maybe this “who is a real American” conversation feels a bit exhausting after a campaign that lasted far too long and a new year that feels even more combative. We wonder who, beyond cynical elected officials and professional opinionators catering to their core audiences, would ask the question with any reall sincerity anyway. It’s quite well established that today’s U.S. includes lots of very different people with all kinds of jobs, mindsets and backgrounds.

Fusion continues to bet that, like parent company Univision, it can run a viable business by appealing to a coalition of minority groups with some common cultural interests.

We do know of one kind-of-American thing that its leadership doesn’t like, though: labor unions.



Client: Fusion Media Group

Chief Executive Officer: Isaac Lee
Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer:Boris Gartner
Vice President, Executive Creative Director:Stephen Leps

Agency: SS+K
Partner, Chief Creative Officer:Bobby Hershfield
Creative Director:Armando Flores
Art Director:Malika Reid
Copywriter:Margaret Webber
Design Director: Jesse Raker
Lead Designer: Chris Peck
Director of Production and Innovation:John Swartz
Executive Producer, Photography: Jamie Appelbaum
Executive Producer, Video: Liz Mistriel
Partner/Founder, Account Lead: Rob Shepardson
Account Supervisor:Gisell Galan
Account Coordinator:Jason Fishkin
Strategy:Claudia Cukrov

Production Company: Freebird Production
Director/Photographer:Gillian Laub,Verbatim
Director of Photography:Rick Gershon,Verbatim
Photography Assistant: Yoav Friedlander
Producer:Tali Magal
Assistant Producer: Jessie Jobst

Casting: JV8, Inc. andPlanet Pre Pro

Video Edit/Post Production Company: The Mill NY
Editor: Ryan McKenna
Producer: Katya Pavlova
Colorist: Damien Van Der Cryussen

Event Production: Chris Wayne & Associates
Owner: Chris Wayne
VP, Chief of Staff: Tim Biba
Account Manager: Marc Gross
Technical Director: Danny Huebsch