Dozens of bikini-clad women and upset New York residents congregated outside New York City's public transit headquarters on Tuesday to protest the transport authority’s recent decision to ban a popular Georgi Vodka ad campaign, which features models donning sexy swimsuits, from appearing on buses that travel through certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn that are primarily populated by Hasidic Jewish communities.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority's move was reportedly initiated in response to a string of complaints filed by religious groups in the New York borough.
“We’re very upset about the censorship,” Georgi Vodka spokesperson Todd Shapiro told Pop Tarts. “We had about 50 girls pointing their backsides at the MTA as part of the protest, basically telling them to ‘butt’ out. The government should not be acting in a role of judging where an ad goes based on religious beliefs. The MTA has no place in segregating areas; it should be all or nothing.”
Furthermore, Martin Silver, the President of Star Industries, which creates and supplies several premium liquors including Georgi Vodka, feels that MTA’s actions are a “blatant violation” of the First Amendment.
“Both women [in the ads] are clothed. No inappropriate body parts are shown," Silver said at the protest. "These ads are clearly not pornography. The MTA has absolutely no right to censor these ads, and by doing so, they are directly denying Star Industries of its Constitutional rights.”
However, Rabbi Shea Hecht, who serves as Chairman of the Board of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education told us he has great respect for the First Amendment, but believes he also has a right to travel through his neighborhood with his children and not be offended.
“Thirty years ago I was on the planning board in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and we approved shelters to be constructed at bus stops providing they did not show anything offensive to us. We're ecstatic that MTA made this decision and hope it sets a precedent for future advertising,” he said. “But where are the women’s rights activists in all of this? This campaign is insulting at least half the population. If they want to sell bikinis, then fine, put a girl in a bikini – but what does that have to do with vodka?”
Nonetheless, the adult beverage company has no intention of resting until their controversial campaign is blasted across the backside of all buses that travel through Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn. According to Shapiro, Georgi Vodka now plans to drive the billboard through these forbidden areas, encouraging locals to sign a petition for its reinstatement.
MTA declined to comment on the issue.
This is not the first time Georgi Vodka has come up against city officials. In 2006, a similar “Georgi Butt” advertisement, which showcased a woman’s backside in a string bikini, was yanked from city buses and deemed inappropriate for public viewing. It has since returned to MTA buses in New York City, with the exception of the restricted Brooklyn neighborhoods.