MANILA – Local fashion and lifestyle brand Bench has addressed the issue surrounding its controversial billboard, depicting a homosexual male couple with blackened hands.
Bench told the Style Bible that the billboard along EDSA-Guadalupe was not defaced or vandalized, as presumed by netizens reacting to the blackened hands, but that the company had purposely done this in compliance with the version they submitted to the Ad Standards Council (ASC).
The image showing creative director Vince Uy and boyfriend Niño Gaddi with hands intertwined was approved by the ASC, but approval was given to the copy presented by Bench, in which the couple’s hands had been blurred out.
“When billboard images for Bench’s ‘Love All Kinds of Love’ campaign were submitted to the governing body (Ad Standards Council), the company received concern over the photo of Vince Uy and his arm around partner Niño Gaddi, hands clasped in a show of affection. Prior, the governing body had rejected photos of the couple looking lovingly at one another, citing ‘traditional Filipino family values’ as a reason,” advertising and promotions manager Jojo Liamzon told Style Bible.
“The approved version with hands obscured is the billboard that Bench had printed and now stands on EDSA. A digital mockup of the EDSA billboard showing the unobscured hands of Uy and Gaddi had been disseminated to press and is what likely led the public to assume the billboard has been defaced,” he added.
According to Liamzon, the message of the billboard is one of “well-represented diversity, and the message that same-sex relationships are just as substantial and valid as heterosexual romantic love and familial love,” and that this message “was still intact” despite having somewhat been compromised by the obscured hands.
“While the message has been compromised to an extent, the most important thing is that at least, for the duration that the billboards are up, the voices, lives and loves of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community are unavoidable and undeniable on an avenue Filipinos from all walks of life cross every day,” he explained.