Pro-Yes-on-3 Ad Agency Alters Ad After Objections From Opponents of Gender-Identity Law

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A new ad that originally said supporters of the No side on Question 3 “worship a monster” drew a sharp response Friday from advocates pushing for repeal of a portion of the state’s gender-identity law, apparently leading the creators of the ad to alter it.

“When You Worship A Monster, It’s Kind of Hard To Push Other Religious Beliefs,” the original version of the ad stated.

MullenLowe, an ad agency not affiliated with the Yes on 3 campaign, produced the ad.

The ad doesn’t explain what “monster” means, but some observers took it hard.

“We are less than a week removed from the horrific shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and these Yes on 3 advocates are insinuating that people of faith worship a monster. Whatever they meant by that, it is extraordinarily irresponsible language and can only feed the kind of hate that led to last week’s tragedy,” said Andrew Beckwith, legal analyst for the No on 3 campaign, in a written statement.

Kelly Frederickson, president of MullenLowe Boston, which made the ad, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

A spokesman for the Yes on 3 campaign distanced the campaign from the MullenLowe ads, but said the No on 3 interpretation that the ad is an attack on people of faith is wrong.

“This Ad campaign was not produced or coordinated with our campaign. However, given the context of the other ads associated, it is pretty clear they were referring to the iconic Green Monster at Fenway Park. Once again, this is an effort by the ‘No on 3’ campaign to distract from what’s really at stake,” said Matt Wilder, spokesman for the Yes on 3 campaign, in an email message to New Boston Post.

Late Friday, MullenLowe changed the wording of the ad online to “When You Worship The Monstah, It’s Kind of Hard To Push Other Religious Beliefs.”

“The Monstah” is an occasional Boston reference to the 37-foot-high wall in left field at Fenway.

The change occurred sometime after New Boston Post inquired about the Monster ad late afternoon Friday.

Above is the new version of the Monster ad published online by MullenLowe late Friday, November 2, referring to worshipping “The Monstah” instead of “A Monster.”

It’s one of a series of eight one-sentence messages published on a web site produced by MullenLowe under the header “Share the Love.”

The messages appear beneath a video produced by MullenLowe that is drawing attention.

It features a portly hooded-jacket-wearing man sitting at a bar drinking a beer and expounding in vulgar terms about certain Boston in-your-face customs while “The Rocky Road To Dublin” on fiddle plays in the background.

After talking about inconsiderate driving techniques, local professional sports pride, and the Boston accent, and using versions of the F-word four times, the man pivots to political philosophy:

“You know, our forefathers granted us this right – to be loud, proud, occasionally obnoxious. And that freedom is so important to us. So:  Who are we to take away our neighbors’ liberties? Or revoke the law that protects their right to live a life free from discrimination? Or be biased against someone based on the gender they identify with? Yeah, we’re Mass—–, but we’re no —holes.”

The last line gives the name of the ad campaign:  “Mass—– Not —holes.”

(Vulgarities have been altered.)

The 1-minute-44-second ad was shot at Porter Café in West Roxbury. The owner, Paul Murphy, told New Boston Post that the ad agency that produced the ad paid him $500 for the use of the establishment during the day, when it was closed.

“Although it has the look and feel of a political ad, no one paid for the video,” Boston Magazine reported Thursday. “The agency says members of its staff decided to make it on their own, pro bono.”

The video is getting rave reviews in some left-of-center quarters.

Universal Hub, a web site that covers community news in the Boston area, asked readers if the Irish pub ad is a “Great Massachusetts political ad in 2018 or greatest Massachusetts political ad in 2018?”

“It’s a mini-classic,” said MASSterlist, an email newsletter that summarizes Massachusetts stories.

Advocates on the No side are seeking to persuade voters to repeal a 2016 state statute that they call the Bathroom Bill, because it allows biological males who identify as women to use public bathrooms and locker rooms meant for females, which they say endangers the safety and privacy of women and girls.

The Yes side is seeking to persuade voters to continue the law, which they describe as protecting the dignity and rights of marginalized transgender people.

“I’ve been raised in a state that protects all our liberties and I want those to exist for my kids,” Frederickson told Boston Magazine in a story published Thursday night.

No on 3 campaign officials interpret the new pro-Yes ads as a response to a video ad they put out earlier in the week featuring an African-American pastor calling voting No on Question 3 “a righteous thing.”

“First of all, as a father, as a husband, my concern is the protection of my wife and my daughters,” Bishop James E. Collins, pastor of Eagle Heights Cathedral in Revere, says in the pro-No ad, which runs 3 minutes 14 seconds. “As a pastor I have to tell our people there are some things you just have to stand up for, because our job is to look out for the whole, and to look out for even our communities. And so as a pastor it concerns me that we don’t sit in church and only have church, and not try to affect what’s going on outside of this congregation.”

Collins argues that it doesn’t make sense to wait to change the bathroom law until a woman is violated.

“It’s not bigotry. It’s wisdom. It’s protection,” Collins said.

No on 3 campaign officials accuse the makers of the Irish-bar pro-Yes ad campaign of name-calling, since the title of the campaign implies that No voters are “—holes.”

“This is a new low,” said Debby Dugan, chairman of Keep Massachusetts Safe, a pro-No-side ballot question committee. “They started by calling women and children ‘transphobic’ if they express very understandable safety and privacy concerns, but now they’re apparently attacking minority faith communities who have spoken out against this law. It’s disgusting and demonstrates real discrimination.”

Meanwhile, the Yes on 3 campaign has released a new ad featuring Ian, an adolescent biological female who identifies as a boy, who appeared in a previous Yes on 3 ad that has gotten major play on television in Massachusetts.

“I was born a girl, but inside I always knew I was male,” Ian says in the new ad, which runs 3 minutes 7 seconds. “With my parents’ support I’ve transitioned to live as the person I’ve always known I was.”

Advocates on the Yes side say in the ad that they were shocked when they heard that repealing the 2016 law made the 2018 ballot.

“And when I told my kids and other people, everyone’s reaction is, ‘ “Who would want to roll back protections for equal rights?” says Ian’s mother, Tricia, in the new ad.

A social worker, a sexual assault survivor, and state Representative Paul Tucker (D-Salem), a former Salem police chief, also appear in the ad to make a pitch for the Yes side.

Question 3 goes to Massachusetts voters on Tuesday, November 6.