By: Mark Fitzgerald
Nice People Theatre is debuting a new work, “Love Jerry,” on Friday, and figured the best place for their limited ad budget of $800 would be Philly.com, the site run by The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.
One problem turned out to be the video the troupe wanted to run, which begins, ‘This is Jerry. Jerry is a pedophile. Can you Love Jerry?”
According to Nice People, “Philadelphia’s major news outlet refused our advertising dollars because of the word pedophile and suggested we replace the word. But no other word was satisfactory to them – they censored our ad for fear that people would click on the play button to watch our ad and think that they were condoning pedophilia.”
Instead of trying to get an ad, “We put it in our e-mail and listserv and Twitter, Facebook, and any social media we can,” Nicole Blicher, co-artistic director of the theatre company, said in a telephone interview Thursday. “And we said, anyone who forwards the ad, and comes to the theatre to buy a ticket, we’re giving $2 off. If we reach 50 people doing that, then we will donate the $800 we would have spent on the ad to the child abuse prevention effort, who have been really supportive of us.”
The spot went viral.
Philly.com President Ryan Davis said the site’s objection wasn’t to a particular word or image, and that the ad staff tried hard to find a way to make the ad work. And in fact by Thursday morning they had, he said.
“But she (Blicher) said they were getting so much publicity about us not running the ad that they didn’t need an ad,” Davis said. “She said, we did them a favor. I can’t blame them, they are getting so much free publicity.”
Blicher, though, says it wasn’t quite like that: “It’s not that we’re getting so much publicity we don’t want any more. It’s that that ($800) was literally our only ad budget, and we’ve gone ahead and said we’re going to give it to the child abuse prevention effort. It’s not that I don’t want to advertise in Philly.com. I just don’t have the dollars.”
Here’s the spot that started it all: