Some object to Metro Transit ad-clad pink bus

With the increasing commercialization of transit vehicles, it was only a matter of time before some riders objected to the advertising message of one of Metro Transit’s buses or light rail cars.

The Star Tribune’s Tim Harlow says a Planned Parenthood ad — encompassing a bus in pink with an image of an IUD and the words, “birth control… it’s what we do” (send us a photo if you see it) — has got some of his readers hot under the collar.

A Metro Transit spokesperson says the ad meets the agency’s standards. Planned Parenthood says the bus ad is educational.

Advertising is a big source of revenue for the state’s largest public transportation system. In 2017, ads promoting everything from cellphones to art exhibits to local professional sport teams brought in $4.3 million. That’s money sorely needed as the Met Council, which operates the system, grapples with a more than $100 million transportation deficit.

Transit advertising has reach, too. More than 290,000 commuters a day board Metro Transit vehicles. And thousands more see ads as buses and trains roll by.

Not every ad cuts the mustard. Metro Transit routinely declines those that don’t meet its standards, [Metro Transit spokesperson Howie] Padilla said. The agency turns down issue-oriented ads, which is why you won’t see ads for political candidates or hot-button topics.

The agency also declines ads for products and services that are illegal or encourage unlawful behavior. A legal product or service featuring a person hitting somebody with a wrench would be disqualified, too,Padilla said.

“I feel something that as a taxpayer service for St. Paul, Minneapolis or anybody who takes a bus ride, they should not be subjected to something where the bus system gets revenue to sell a service such as that,” one of Harlow’s readers said.

Would you let a bus go by to protest an advertiser?

Didn’t think so.

  • Gary F
    • jon

      Did the NRA give up political lobbying around the single issue of guns?

      “The agency turns down issue-oriented ads, which is why you won’t see ads for political candidates or hot-button topics.”

      nope, I googled it, you are just trolling.

      • Gary F

        Nothing political about Eddie the Eagle. You must not have looked into it the material. NRA, leftist dog whistle.

        • MrE85

          Eagles are just vultures with better PR.

          • Jerry

            It’s amazing what a good head of hair (feathers?) will get you.

        • jon

          The NRA’s tax code… 501(c)4… if they aren’t political, they should change their tax code, they still haven’t done that (just googled it again) so they are still a political lobbying organization, pushing a single issue… so they are both political, and issue orientated…

          But go head tell me how the NRA filed their taxes is a leftists liberal conspiracy…

        • Once upon a time the NRA was truly a gun hobbyist, hunting, and safety organization. It was as wholesome as scouting and local service organizations. That time is long past, and Eddie Eagle isn’t going to bring it back. Today’s NRA stands as a right-wing lobbying powerhouse led by a disgraced colonel who cooked up a plan to divert proceeds from illegal arms sales to Iran to bolster the murderous Contras in Nicaragua. While some of its activities like the NRA Foundation are somewhat legally distanced from the cesspit of crazy at HQ, the entire operation is tainted by the stink of radical paranoia. I quit it in the 1980s when it started down this path.

      • Robert

        Need to work on your google skills; Eddie the Eagle is a gun safety program for kids. It is not political.

    • RBHolb

      I’ve been riding public transportation since the dawn of time (it seems). I have yet to refuse to get on board because of an advertisement on the side. I don’t know of anyone else who has done so, either.

      • lusophone

        Actually those window wraps they do on the buses and train cars are very annoying cuz you can’t see out the window very well. I will pick my train car based on the absence of those annoying wraps when I have the choice. But I know what you mean : )

  • kevins

    Pink works for me.

  • Mike

    >>“I feel something that as a taxpayer service for St. Paul, Minneapolis or anybody who takes a bus ride, they should not be subjected to something where the bus system gets revenue to sell a service such as that,” one of Harlow’s readers said.<<

    I'd love to hear what, exactly, this reader finds so offensive about IUDs. If it were an ad for cheaper drugs, I doubt there would be the same objections about a prescription pill bottle.

    Whenever I read about the abuse that early birth control advocates like Margaret Sanger were subjected to a century ago, I never have trouble believing it. Look at attitudes today.

    I have one suggestion for Metro Transit. Just to make it clear that birth control isn't only a woman's responsibility, they should invite a condom manufacturer to sponsor an ad. Things could get fun!

    • Guest

      I was transporting my daughter & 6th grade girlfriends as the daddy driver, listening to the radio when an ad for condoms came over the radio. It got real quiet real fast and very awkward. Not every consumer is a sophisticated adult.

      These ads are “in your face” to a family getting around town and boarding that bus.

    • DJ Wambeke

      >>>”what, exactly, this reader finds so offensive about IUDs”

      Unlike (some) other methods of birth control, IUDs don’t work just by preventing conception; they work by preventing the uterine implantation of an already-formed human zygote. I certainly don’t know anything about the specific reader that was quoted, but because of this fact, many people do see them as closer to an “abortifacient” than other forms of birth control, hence they are a bit more controversial.

      • KTFoley

        I’m guessing (and will freely admit that it’s a guess because life is too short to read Star Tribune comments) that people who are upset about a Planned Parenthood ad aren’t distinguishing between the two types of birth control in the photo. They’re just reacting to PP.

        • DJ Wambeke

          That’s a fair point!

      • merry_rose

        Then those uptight ninnies need to go back to high school biology because a fertilized zygote can fail to implant all on its own. They love to crow that “life begins at conception”, carry on about “God’s plan” and what the Bible says, then completely ignore the passage that says “you were not alive until I put the breath of life in you” (or mostly that). Pretty sure that the ancient writers of the Bible had figured out that the baby born wasn’t known to be alive until it screamed after its first breath.

        • DJ Wambeke

          What the Bible says is irrelevant.
          And the controversy isn’t even, strictly speaking, about the science. No one denies that some zygotes fail to implant. Some people just see a distinction between an accidental death and an “on purpose” one.

  • It’s an ad for a medical office and a pharmaceutical. I don’t see the issue. Kids see the endless Viagra and Cialis ads during pro-sports broadcasts, so this isn’t any more “in your face” than that.

    Also the people getting mad are providing the ad even more exposure, so there’s that.

    • John O.

      So run another pink bus immediately after the Planned Parenthood one that is advertising Pepto Bismol.

    • >>Also the people getting mad are providing the ad even more exposure, so there’s that.<<

      "Protesters" never seem to understand that aspect.

    • Brian Simon

      Daddy, what does “erectile disfunction mean?”


    • Postal Customer

      There is a huge difference. One deals with mens’ health issues (perfectly okay to discuss), the other deals with womens’ (not okay).

      Mens’ health issues are mens’ business. Ain’t nobody gonna take that away.

      Womens’ health issues apparently are the business of everyone but those women.

      • Barton

        I wish you were wrong, Dave, but you hit the nail right on the head.

  • AL287

    Of all the pharmaceutical ads in all the world, we had to pick on Planned Parenthood’s Birth control ad.

    I’m sure if you asked physicians around the country (those without a
    backdoor kickback connection to the pharmaceutical cartel) they would
    tell you their biggest pet peeve is DTC advertising and the proverbial
    pharmaceutical rep.

    The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world who allow this nonsense and no amount of counseling can rid the average consumer that what they need are the drugs they see on media ads across the advertising spectrum for anything from erectile dysfunction to digestive disorders.

    This is one healthcare ad that has the potential to do a world of good, pun intended. IUD’s have come a very long way since the dark days of the Dalkon Shield. This one form of birth control is easily reversible and can last 10 years or more.

    I should know because I had one for 11 years.

    One need only look at recent news stories to believe some people should NEVER become parents.

    Keep fighting for a woman’s right to control her own body, Planned Parenthood and while you’re at it, fight for more funding for research on men’s birth control so that it isn’t just a woman’s responsibility. Condoms and withdrawal ain’t doing the job.

  • Barton

    did people complain about the Vikings bus/train car? Or the Twins, or the Wild, or the Wolves (haven’t seen a Lynx one, but saw a United poster inside a LRT car)? Probably not.

    I saw the bus going down Nicollet Mall last week. It made me smile. 1st, I fully support (including fiscally) PP and their mission. 2nd, it was a dreary day and that pink sure make me smile (though, in general, I dislike pink).

    • Barton

      Also, I assume the ad revenue helps keep my metro card rate as low as it can be, so I am all in favor of that.

    • BJ

      Actually MNUFC ad’s have been complained about….. Since you know they are paying for their own stadium and building on what was an empty lot for 30 years, because … Traffic and parking will be bad 17 Saturday or Sunday’s and 1-2 weeknights a year?

      • Joseph

        *Facepalm* People…..

      • Jack Ungerleider

        But the stadium is on the Green Line so what parking and traffic? Just hook up another car to the train. 8^)

  • Mike Worcester

    Forgive my crudeness, but if we are going to be just fine with ads for products that help men be able to do that, none of us really have standing to complain about ads for products which deal with the aftermath of that.

  • I think the folks concerned about the pink bus would be well served to join those of us who advocate for greater funding for Metro Transit so they no longer have to sell advertising space on buses and trains. That would certainly solve the problem.

  • AmiSchwab

    “magic bus”