The fourth image banned shows a pedicured foot gripping bright red lighters in between each toe, the phrase “every single toker” at the top. Although New York State has already legalized the recreational consumption of cannabis, the MTA’s advertising policy, which was revised in November of last year, bans any reference to the substance.
“The MTA seeks to maintain a secure, safe, and welcoming environment for a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and diverse ridership, including minors,” Eugene Resnick, an MTA spokesperson, wrote to Ad Age. “The MTA’s revised advertising guidelines made adjustments to the definition of permitted advertising and to prohibited advertising bearing in mind protections of the First Amendment, which updated guidelines the OKCupid ads did not meet.”
The MTA’s advertising policy revision came the same week it settled a lawsuit with women’s sex toy brand Dame. The three-year lawsuit filed by the brand specifically called out OkCupid’s award-winning, Wieden+Kennedy-led “DTF” campaign from 2018. Pointing out the hypocrisy of being denied advertising rights on the subway, Dames’ legal filing states, “The MTA apparently did not apply the Policy to OkCupid or concluded that OkCupid—a dating and hookup service whose advertisements use an explicit sexual pun—is not a ‘sexually oriented business.’”
Read more: MTA lets sex toys company Dame advertise on the subway.
Like “Every Single Person,” the “DTF” campaign, which subverted the dating shorthand “down to fuck” by filling in the final word with phrases like “DTFall head over heels” and “DTFlea market,” was similarly controversial among certain groups, but Hobley said in a different way.
“The reaction to ‘DTF’ was about that phrase,” Hobley said. “With [‘Every Single Person’], it packs a tougher punch, because it is a targeted, more singular response to LGBTQ identities. This is a normalization of lifestyle. So, the homophobia we've seen in some of this response is different from the criticisms of the other.”
Despite the setbacks, OkCupid is forging ahead with relaunching the campaign. In addition to rolling out the OOH ads again, OkCupid is donating one dollar to GLAAD, the LGBTQ+ anti-defamation organization, to match each of the 10,900 likes the viral poster-tearing tweet received. The dating site will also donate $2 to GLAAD for every like it receives on an Instagram post that was published yesterday.
Read: OkCupid takes 'DTF' beyond the run-of-the-mill screw.