By Beth Main
A billboard in Shenzhen has shocked drivers, passers-by and netizens with an eight-metre-tall picture of four nude boys playing in the sunshine next to the words ‘for rent’.
The photo of the boys is being used to advertise vacant billboard space on a busy highway near the Hong Kong border, which has caused many people to ask why the agency is using a photo of four naked boys, especially with the (hopefully) inadvertent innuendo when accompanied by the phrase ‘for rent’.
The agency that manages the billboard, Lanbite Advertising, claims that the picture was meant to be attention grabbing (which, to be fair, it was) and is just an innocent picture of the human body. They explained that the image is “very innocent and cute.” Lanbite owner Wang Ailan elaborated that “We are all human beings and this is just our innocent naked body – cute, humorous and healthy.”
“What’s wrong with using the picture?” Wang asked.
Many have denounced the advert as inappropriate and offensive. Concerns have been raised that people might think the boys themselves are for rent, because that is obviously how the covert child pornography market works, on massive public billboards.
The advert first appeared late last month, and will have been seen by tens of thousands of commuters passing between Lok Ma Chau and Huanggang in Shenzhen. Authorities have moved to reassure the public that The Shenzhen General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection had not been informed about the use of the picture, but will “investigate as soon as possible.”
The entire fiasco has been made possible by China’s vague laws on advertising which only protect children’s images if they are “harmful to children’s mental and physical health”, according to Tracey Liu, an advertising director in Guangdong.
Authorities investigating the billboard promise that “If it is inappropriate and discomforting to [the general public], we will immediately order it to be pulled down.”