Northwest Airlines uses pull in billboard sign fiasco

Signs, signs, everywhere is signs. And yet some are more objectionable than others. At least that’s the argument that Northwest Airlines is making after it asked Clear Channel Communications to remove a Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) anti-nuclear-weapons billboard in the Minneapolis airport.

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“We received several complaints from customers and employees on the content of this ad and erred on the side of avoiding objectionable content,” says Northwest VP of communications Tammy Lee.

“The airport is a place where people of all political persuasions come for business and pleasure and we wanted to avoid any issues related to what was perceived as a political message.”

Erected on 13 August, the billboard is one of two placed by UCS at the Minneapolis and Denver airports to coincide with the Republican and Democratic conventions. They urge both parties’ presidential candidates to address the threat of nuclear weapons. 

The UCS says Northwest officials in an email exchange with Clear Channel complained that the billboard image is “scary” and “anti-McCain” (click on the photo above for a clearer image).

“Nuclear weapons are scary, and that’s why we need to pay attention to them. But to say that the billboard is anti-McCain is ludicrous,” says Elliott Negin, a UCS spokesman.

“In fact, both McCain and Obama largely agree with us that we need to rid the world of nuclear weapons. These are not ‘attack ads’, they are a strong reminder to both candidates that this is a very serious issue they need to address. Northwest Airlines is trying to censor free speech, and I don’t think that’s their role.”

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