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Inside the Billboard Biz: Puppet Cleavage is a No-No, But Hookers and Pot Dealers Are Just Fine

Lamar Advertising (LAMR) has refused to allow a billboard for the stageshow Avenue Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., because it showed "puppet cleavage." This is the same Lamar that has sold billboards to hookers in Texas, medical marijuana sellers in California, and atheists in some places but not others.

The ad in question (pictured) shows the decolletage of the character "Lucy the Slut."

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported what we already know, which is that standards at Lamar are controlled not by a sensible company-wide policy but by the individual whims of its managers:

Lamar account executive Jeff Moore said he has a simple test to see what's appropriate for bus ads and billboards: "If I have to explain it to my 4 year old or my grandmother, we don't put it up."

Was it the fact that it was cleavage or the fact that it was Muppet-like cleavage that swayed Moore?

"It's the fact that it's cleavage," he said. ... "I just know in this market, we prefer to walk a little more conservatively," Moore said.

Colorado Springs is home to an unusual number of churches and conservative groups, including Focus on the Family. Broadway on Colorado is using the controversy to sell more tickets.

Lamar hasn't always made consistent decisions when faced with speech issues. It has taken down ads that criticized Israel and refused to sell sites to groups who don't believe President Obama's birth certificate is genuine. The company also flip-flopped on an ad that criticized a Republican politician over healthcare reform.

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