The following apology was made to Mumsnet, who duly posted it online:
‘The OAA are running a campaign to demonstrate the power of outdoor advertising to drive people online. This is being done in conjunction with a new website called Britainthinks.com which encourages debate amongst the people of Britain.
We regret any misunderstanding that led to feelings of offence on the part of members of the Mumsnet community.
The intention of the website is to generate debate by posing questions that are deemed to be socially relevant by members of society.
We did not intend to cause any offence and we would stress that the questions posed were not the opinions of the OAA or any of its members.
Three posters were designed to initiate the debate using sport, life and politics and these are supported by dozens of other questions on the website itself.
Regrettably the question relating to ‘career women’ has caused offence and the OAA unreservedly apologises to anyone who has been offended. This was not our intention and, to ensure that this misunderstanding does not persist, instructions have been given to remove this poster.
Subject to the vagaries of the weather, all copy will be removed as soon as possible. The sites currently carrying this poster will be either blanked-out or carry one of the other designs. The poster will also be removed from the Britainthinks.com website. All Digital posters have already been removed.’
Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts has responded with this:
Mumsnet would like to apologise for the strength of feeling expressed by Mumsnetters in response to the poster asking us to discuss our strength of feeling in response to the poster.
The reason we’ve waited until now to apologise is that the strength and nature of our reaction to the poster shocked us. At first we were not sure what to do. It had not been our intention to cause such offence, nor to attract such abuse.
We misunderstood the statement “Agree?” by assuming that this meant that the statement in question was intended to provoke discussion. We now understand that it was ironic casual sexism intended to draw attention to advertising space.
We also misunderstood the statement “If you’ve got an opinion, here’s where to stick it” as suggesting that this was intended to trigger controversial debate. We now understand that it was a request to increase traffic to the advertiser’s website and not to enter into a wider public debate all over the internet.
We accept that in some cases that debate slipped into puerile, juvenile and offensive language. And Haikus.
So in particular, we would like to extend our heartfelt apology to any career persons that we might have offended at the offices of (Beta) and in the wider outdoor advertising industry.
We are profoundly sorry. We hope our apology is accepted.
So much for the power of outdoor advertising over the internet 😀