OREM, Utah (ABC4) – A Provo-based company, Super Seed International, is threatening to file a lawsuit against University Place Shopping Center in Orem for refusing to use their advertisement of a shirtless man.
The reason for the refusal?
According to the following comment from Compass Outdoor Advertising, which owns the digital billboard, the sign can only be used for advertising by a tenant of the shopping center.
“The large digital sign on the 545 University Place office building is the first of its kind in the state of Utah, intended to be an aesthetic, architectural feature which abides by zoning ordinances and guidelines related to community standards,” Compass Outdoor Advertising states.
“The opportunity to advertise on the large digital exterior screen on 545 University Place, which is an on-premise sign, is only available to the tenants of University Place, in accordance with the Utah Outdoor Advertising Act. Advertising within a tenants’ leased space, is under the reasonable discretion of University Place and the tenant. Super Seed International is not a tenant of University Place,” the company adds.
However, according to Super Seed’s media contact, Piero Valdizan, the company was in the process of becoming a tenant and had had conversations with mall personnel concerning advertising.
“We approached the corporation at the mall to establish a local presence there; went through the application process,” Valdizan tells ABC4.
Valdizan says when Super Seed sent in the picture of Cesar Valentino Valdizan, Super Seed’s Founder and the model in the advertisement, the shopping center said the pictures needed to be modified.
“They specifically told me that I needed to button up my shirt,” Valdizan stated.
According to Valdizan, the company found pictures of him online wearing a shirt and told him those pictures would work. He says this is sexist.
“Which was funny to us because you don’t see the Victoria Secret model advertisement… where the Victoria Secret models are wearing button up shirts or jackets. They have women wearing underwear, and here they are telling me that I need to button up my shirt so that they can post my ad.”
Originally, Compass Outdoor Advertising told Super Seed the reason they wouldn’t let the company advertise on that billboard was that we were not officially tenants of the mall, Valdizan explains.
But later, they heard from an attorney that that was not the reason why their ad was declined, that it was more of an in-house decision on their part, he states.
Piero Valdizan says he received the following message in an email from Walker Kennedy, Woodbury Corporation’s attorney.
“This creates a lot of questions, and it’s just not a pretty picture for them,” Valdizan says. “We see a lot of discrimination, sexism and it’s just very insulting and offending.”
According to Cesar Valentino Valdizan, he wants an apology from the company and more transparency about policy. He says Super Seed International isn’t bringing up this issue to cause hype.
“We are bringing this to light because we don’t want other companies to suffer like we have… to go through these type of scenarios where they are trying to progress. They are trying to grow in that community. They are trying to earn and living and be shut down like we’ve been shut down,” Valdizan says.
“It’s simply because we have the evidence to bring to light that there are some serious discrepancies when it comes to everything that has happened so far,” he states.