Naughty Awareness Ads
American Humanist Association “Naughty” Awareness Campaign
On Nov. 21, 2011, the American Humanist Association launched their third consecutive holiday public awareness campaign to bring attention to discrimination against nonbelievers in America. The billboards and full-page newspaper ads center on the message, “Bias Against Atheists is Naughty, Not Nice,” with Santa Claus making up his “naughty” list. Cities across the United States were chosen where atheists have experienced discrimination due to their lack of belief in a traditional god.
For example, the ad in the Cranston Herald newspaper was in response to a high school student, Jessica Ahlquist, who endured harassment and threats—one even called her a “stupid atheist”—for objecting to the display of a religious prayer banner hanging in her public high school auditorium.
Another chosen town, Bastrop, Louisiana, is where a student named Damon Fowler was ostracized by his community—even his own parents kicked him out of his home—for objecting to a Christian prayer that would be held during his graduation ceremony.
The need to do this campaign became even more evident while trying to organize it. The AHA was turned down for billboard and newspaper ad space in several “naughty” towns, even with the assistance of outside help. Billboards were unable to be secured in or near Hardesty, OK, Bastrop, LA, Asheville, NC, Auburn, AL, Annville, PA, Princeton, WV, Fruitland, TN, and Fulton, MS. We were turned down by the Guymon Daily Herald (Hardesty, OK) and the Bastrop Daily Enterprise (Bastrop, LA) for newspaper ads. The Lebanon Daily News (Annville, PA) at first turned the group down based on content but then offered to run it if they were paid over three times the original quoted price.
For the simultaneous bus ad campaign in Washington, D.C., the message “Don’t Believe in a God? Join the club” was chosen and features a group of smiling people in Santa hats offering a thumbs up gesture.
For the past three years the American Humanist Association has placed advertisements in Washington DC and other cities around the holiday season. The first ads on buses in Washington DC stated, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”
The details of ad placement is as follows:
Nov. 21, 2011 — billboard — Kearny, NJ — 4 weeks (CBS Outdoor)
Nov. 21, 2011 — buses — Washington, DC — 4 weeks (Washington DC Metro Area Transit Authority)
Nov. 23, 2011 — newspaper ad—Cranston, RI—one day (Cranston Herald)
Nov. 23, 2011 — newspaper ad—Bastrop, LA (Monroe)—one day (The News Star)
Nov. 23, 2011 — newspaper ad—Oregon City, OR—one day (Oregon City News)
Nov. 23, 2011 — newspaper ad—Bryan/College Station, TX—one day (The Eagle)
Nov. 28, 2011 — billboard (digital)—Rochester Hill, MI—4 weeks (CBS Outdoor)