Pastors protest sugar-daddy billboard in Southwest Philly

ED HILLE / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The ad in question, promoting an adult website, beckons drivers from the northbound side of I-95, near Allegheny Avenue. The site claims that, despite protests, the ad has increased local membership.
ED HILLE / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The ad in question, promoting an adult website, beckons drivers from the northbound side of I-95, near Allegheny Avenue. The site claims that, despite protests, the ad has increased local membership.
Posted: February 07, 2013

CLOSE to a dozen ministers crowded the entrance to Steen Outdoor Advertising, in Southwest Philly, on Tuesday to protest a billboard that makes a cheeky edit to the Seventh Commandment.

"Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery," reads the ad, on Interstate 95 near Allegheny Avenue, for an online adult sugar-daddy/mistress-matching service, with the "Not" artfully crossed out.

Debra Hamilton, head of sales and marketing at Steen, said that her company is just as upset as the demonstrators and that it can't review the content of the hundreds of contract ads that it runs.

"We were led to believe they were some kind of social-networking dating site," she said, calling Steen a "family company."

A.J. Perkins, a marketing representative for the website, arrangementfinders.com, finds that hard to believe.

"They actually own the sign; they approve what goes up," he said. "Otherwise, it would have been a lot more risque, trust me."

Perkins notes that the Toronto-based website is "family-friendly," but his definition refers only to the fact that outright nudity is prohibited on the site. The home page greets visitors with shapely, lingerie-clad legs framing a would-be paying customer and the tagline "Intimacy with a Twi$t."

A group of Port Richmond third-graders from St. George Catholic School, which is close to the billboard near the Castor Avenue exit, protested the sign last week.

Crescentia DeGoede, pastor at Philadelphia Unification Church, said that her group advised the company three days ago that it was going to stage a protest, after Steen representatives refused to meet with area religious leaders.

"They don't have to use [arrangementfinders]," said DeGoede. "They can do business with anybody."

The sign's four-week lease ends in a few days, and Hamilton said that Steen doesn't plan to renew it. Church leaders said that they aren't convinced and that Steen previously told them that it couldn't guarantee that a similar sign wouldn't go back up later.

Perkins said that he couldn't speak to the future of the sign but that it had triggered a 600 percent increase in members from the area over the past few weeks.


On Twitter: @jad_sleiman

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