35-year-old Miami tourism poster still too racy for censors


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A poster created for the predecessor to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau 35 years ago is still too risqué for some media outlets — including Facebook.

In 1979, Miami advertising firm Beber Silverstein & Partners created the iconic poster, “Miami. See it like a native,” which depicted the naked back of a female snorkeler. The Dade County Commission censored the poster for its nudity and perceived sexism, and in 1981, paid $100 to shred 18,000 of 22,000 copies. Some posters, mailed before the ruling, have become collectors items on eBay and currently fetch up to $700.

“It helped put us on the map back in the day,” said Christine Bucan, senior vice president at the ad agency, now called Beber Silverstein Group.

As part of its self-promotion efforts, Beber Silverstein posted a photo of the poster Thursday on its Facebook page during the site’s “Throwback Thursday” initiative. The agency planned to pay $30 a day as a “boost post” on Facebook, to advertise the posting to a wider audience beyond its fan base.

“It helps get new fans and get the word out there,” said Joe Perz, the agency’s creative director. “We use it to show older ads and show our history.” Last week, he posted a Leona Helmsley ad, and before that, one from a Sofia Loren cologne campaign.

But this time, Facebook rejected the paid advertising, saying it did not meet its guidelines. “Your ad wasn’t approved because your image is overly sexual, implies nudity, shows excessive amounts of skin or cleavage, or focuses unnecessarily on body parts,” Facebook’s ads team wrote. It still allowed Beber Silverstein to keep the photo on its own page.

Elaine Silverstein, the agency’s founder and chairman, said she finds it bizarre, “when you see so much more flagrant displays of female flesh.” And there is not even anyone at Facebook to call to discuss it, she said.

“It was the right message then and it is the right message now, and it is crazy, just surreal, that some unknown person sits in an office somewhere and says ‘No, that is something that is prurient,’ ” Silverstein said. “I don’t get it. I didn’t get it 35 years ago, and I certainly don’t get it now.”

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