Powell, Rheingold Spark Convention Controversy

NEW YORK Rheingold’s outdoor campaign created for the Republican National Convention will finally see the light of day this week after being partially rejected by outdoor companies.

The three-poster campaign features black-and-white photographs of New Yorkers: one pictures a woman with a towering bouffant and a shirt reading Orange Alert; another shows a man being spanked; and a third presents a woman standing in a New York street. Copy proclaims, “Welcome to New York. Here’s to a great convention.”

The third execution, of the woman in the street, was a replacement for an ad showing boys sitting on a street and giving the finger to the camera. Titan Outdoor rejected that ad, and Fresh Direct refused the entire campaign.

“It’s been quite a struggle,” said Neil Powell, creative director of Powell in New York, which created the ads. He said he realized the visual of boys giving the camera the finger was “profane” (a modified version obscuring the gesture was also rejected by Titan) but compared it to a recent campaign for Fuse that showed a silhouette of a man masturbating and another of a person using a beer bong.

“It’s like, come on,” he said, adding that the campaign was “never intended to be an anti-anybody, it was intended to be a pro-New York campaign.”

The controversy has garnered news attention from the Daily News and Channel 2. The ads, shot by the photographer know as Mr. Means, began going up on 33 phone kiosks throughout the city yesterday.