Posters supporting condom use banned

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BUDAPEST -- An outdoor ad campaign to raise condom use has been banned by Hungary's Self- Regulatory Advertising Board (ORT) after outdoor advertiser Mahir City Poster Kft refused to display the ads and appealed to the regulatory board to decide on the campaign's fate.

The series of six advertisements each display a condom-wrapped finger. In one, the middle finger is raised, pointing towards the word "AIDS." In another, an index finger points toward a mouth.

The campaign was deemed to violate several parts of ORT's code of ethics, including that which forbids advertisements that "go against society's generally accepted moral and ethical norms and public taste".

The campaign, which was created by the gay activist organization Lambda and supported by a public grant, is the second major campaign to be banned under the ORT's new code of ethics but the first to raise considerable public controversy in Hungary.

Ammirati Puris Lintas' recent campaign for TV channel RTL Klub, showing a yawning Pope John Paul II, was also condemned by the regulatory committee. A recent poster campaign for Cosmopolitan magazine, created by Grey, Budapest, and showing two men covering with their hands only a tiny portion of an otherwise naked woman's chest, was allowed by ORT, however.

Lambda appealed the decision to the Hungarian Consumer Protection Authority, which refused to hear the case on the grounds that it does not fall into its jurisdiction of economically-related advertisements. The agency has taken action on several public advertisements before.

Lambda has vowed to take the matter to court if Mahir continues to refuse to display the ads.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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