Argonauts pull controversial 'hurt people' ad
An advertising campaign meant to drum up support for the Toronto Argonaut's football club has been pulled after a Toronto councillor complained that it made light of spousal abuse.
Coun. Mike Layton said a campaign meant to suggest the Argonauts played tough games in their home stadium, the Rogers Centre, also "insinuates that domestic violence in the home is acceptable or normal."
"The ad may also trigger traumatic responses in the many survivors of domestic violence who are courageously moving forward with their lives," Layton wrote in a letter to Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of the Argonauts.
"Domestic violence is not acceptable. Neither is condoning domestic violence, in any form."
Several posters had been placed in subways and at various stations promoting the start of the CFL season. The advertisement includes a picture of Argo's defensive end Ricky Foley.
The advertisement reads, "Home is where the heart is. It's also where we hurt people."
The campaign, consisting of some 1,000 posters, went up on June 20 and was meant to run for four weeks. The Toronto Argonauts play their first home game at the Rogers Centre on July 23.
Nicholson said that the advertisements would be taken down, two weeks ahead of schedule. He said they would be replaced by other Argonauts posters.
"We were trying to depict the toughness of the game, the fact that we were going to be a worthy opponent at home. We were going to be a difficult opponent to play against and we wanted (the ad campaign) to have an edginess to it," Nicholson told CTV Toronto.
"I never dreamed that it would get to this point – that this is the way people would interpret it."
The TTC was already considering removing the ads from its property, after it received more than five complaints on the matter – enough to launch a review.
The Toronto Argonauts are very active in the community, with staff and players doing as much or more volunteer work than other Toronto sports teams. The Argonauts runs a successful anti-bullying program in Toronto schools.
Layton said the advertisement was in poor form, considering 40,000 people are arrested in domestic violence cases each year, and domestic violence represents 12 per cent of all violent crime in Canada.
"While I understand the intended meaning, my concern is the unintended consequences. In the context of domestic violence, the ad insinuates that domestic violence in the home is acceptable or normal," Layton wrote to Nicholson.
His letter was also sent to Michael "Pinball" Clemons, the vice-chair of the Argonauts, TTC Chair Karen Stintz and Todd Minderson, the executive director of the White Ribbon Campaign, an anti-domestic violence group.
The letter was also made public on Layton's website.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness