Several months ago, we acquired ad space on some of the most prominent and iconic Times Square billboard locations in New York City. The plan was to do a “Times Square takeover” on October 2 and, for just one day, to promote our campaign Protect Children Not Porn, along with our new documentary Raised on Porn. Together with this we had planned to host a protest in Times Square, demanding age verification, with ID, on all sites hosting porn, so children everywhere can be protected from the life-altering consequences of underage exposure.
But for reasons we can only speculate on, these billboard owners denied our ads, even after we had been previously granted permission to advertise there. Not only that, but they waited till the last minute to let us know, refused to allow us to make adjustments to the ads we originally submitted, and essentially refused to work with us in any capacity. We were cancelled.
“But perhaps the owners of these billboards are more concerned about staying in the “good graces” of the multi-billion dollar porn industry than they are about protecting children.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve been censored for taking a bold stand against sexual exploitation and we sincerely doubt it will be the last.
Specifically, the NASDAQ, Thomson Reuters, Bryant Park and Midtown West billboards owners denied us. The ad broker who was trying to set up the billboards for us (whose company is separate from the actual billboard owners), told us the behavior of the owners was confusing and simply didn’t make sense.
It begs the question: why would these prominent billboard owners shut down ads about protecting children from porn exposure? Is the subject matter too intense for a place like Times Square? If you look at the history of advertising there, it’s pretty obvious that’s not the case.
Below is our film poster for Raised on Porn which we planned to use in our ads.
We submitted several ad designs featuring this film poster, a few still images of children’s faces, and text that read: “Why are 6-year-olds watching ‘adult’ content?,” “Our children are watching,” “What is your child watching?,” and “End child exposure to ‘adult’ content.” All were rejected with no explanation.
There is nothing explicit or scandalous about these designs. Our creative team spent a considerable amount of time crafting a film poster that conveyed porn without being visually triggering or overtly offensive. So why would they be rejected so unequivocally?
“Times Square billboards have no issue running content that many people would find objectionable…Not so when it comes to a non-profit trying to elevate a cause that most people should be able to agree on.”
Let’s take a look at some of the other racy ads that have freely run in Times Square, which is known for scandalous advertising. These are just a few of the many examples, but we’ll spare you from excessive visual proof.
The first ad is sponsored by Brazzers, owner of 31 hardcore porn sites and known as the “World’s Best HD Porn Site!”
TRIGGER WARNING: Sexually suggestive images below.
Times Square billboards have no issue running content that many people would find objectionable, even highly sexualized ads pushing products strictly for adults—all so that large for-profit companies can maximize their bottom line. Not so when it comes to a non-profit trying to elevate a cause that most people should be able to agree on.
But perhaps the owners of these billboards are more concerned about staying in the “good graces” of the multi-billion dollar porn industry than they are about protecting children. Or maybe they just don’t care.
We may have been naive to think that the big wig owners of these iconic billboards would care enough about the safety of children to run our ads. But we definitely don’t regret trying.
Despite our billboards being cancelled, we forged ahead with our scheduled protest. On Saturday, October 2, we hit the streets of Times Square to call for the protection of children and youth from the untold harms of underage porn exposure and to demand Big Porn and Big Tech be held accountable for their reckless disregard. The protest, hosted by Exodus Cry, was a part of our Protect Children Not Porn campaign pushing for required age verification, with ID, on all sites that host porn.
Carrying signs and posters with messages saying, “WE DEMAND AGE VERIFICATION,” “PORN EXPOSURE HARMS CHILDREN,” and, “END EXXXPOSURE,” protestors chanted “Protect children not porn,” joining their voices to the fight for robust age verification and calling for ethical standards to be upheld by the companies who are raking in billions of dollars off the proliferation of pornographic content every year.
“It was great to see people show up, some from out of state, to raise their boards and voices to take a stand for children and youth. This is an issue that affects every person in some way and we are committed to holding Big Porn and Big Tech accountable for the mental health damage to kids they are causing and profiting from via freely allowing underage exposure to porn,” said Exodus Cry’s Vice President of Impact, Helen Taylor.
The protest took place just two days after the global release of our new documentary, Raised on Porn, which has already received nearly 140,000 views. The film, released by Exodus Cry’s film production studio, Magic Lantern Pictures, exposes the ways pornography has become the new sex education for children and unpacks the dangerous lifelong implications of this global phenomenon.
Founder of Exodus Cry and director of Raised on Porn, Benjamin Nolot, also attended the protest and said, “Age verification on porn sites is already twenty years too late and we’re not willing to sit around any longer and hope for change. We are demanding it because we need better standards. Millions of children are being exposed to violent, body-punishing porn and Big Tech and Big Porn have the capacity and technology to stop it.”
Here’s how you can help this campaign impact millions of children:
- Join 50k+ others by signing the petition demanding age verification, with ID, on porn sites. Then share it.
- Watch Raised on Porn, free on YouTube, then like, comment, and share it with 5 friends.
- Give here. The more resources we have the more people we can reach with this film and campaign.