The Sideshow

Sunglasses manufacturer’s controversial billboard removed

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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A new billboard in San Diego stirs debate over whether it is creative or offensive. (Spyoptic.com)


A billboard in San Diego that read, "Happy to sit on your face" has been removed after stirring debate over advertising content.

Despite its sexually suggestive overtones, the billboard itself referred to a brand of sunglasses produced by Carlsbad, Calif.-based Spy Optic.

"Upon receiving feedback from a few local citizens about SPY's new Hwy 101 billboard—that has been widely enjoyed and celebrated by the community—the advertising space's management company has decided to remove it permanently," according to a statement from Spy Optic, the sunglasses manufacturing company that produced the billboard. "Despite the billboard's positive reception, an underwhelming minority made enough noise that the management company decided this afternoon to remove it first thing Thursday morning."

Before being taken down, the billboard was generating some controversy, and bemused support, from local residents.

"I thought that I read it wrong," Moonlight Hair Design owner Sarita Mihaly, whose shop sits directly below the billboard, told 10News. "I thought that it was a joke."

Still, Spy Optic insists that most of the response has been positive. "You know, it seemed fun, seemed like a way to sort of embrace 'let's have a good time with this thing,'" Spy Optic Marketing Director Devon Howard told the station. "We didn't expect the response we've gotten. A lot of the response has been pretty good," he added.

Still, Howard doesn't deny that some viewers may be offended. "'Hey, if you'd just put the sunglasses up, we would have got what you meant by it.' I think that's fair criticism," he said.

Nonetheless, generating controversial slogans seems to be part of the company's marketing plan going forward. On the Spy Optic blog, itself named "Cross Words and Crass Blurbs," the company has unveiled a similarly designed billboard with the slogan "Happiness is coming."

While seemingly another direct and potentially offensive sexual reference, Howard insists the slogan simply refers to the company's new "Happy Lens technology," which he says filters in blue light from the sun, increasing serotonin in the wearer and effectively making them happier.

"It's going to affect your circadian rhythm," he said.

At the end of the day, most locals like Mihaly don't seem too concerned about the billboard. "It does create a lot of conversation in here and that's always a good thing," she said.

In fact, Spy Optic says a counterprotest is expected, with some locals demanding that the billboard be put back up.

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