Updated at 6:43 p.m. Thursday with comments from Clear Channel.
Unhappy about a suggestive slogan, local complaints led a Carlsbad-based company Thursday to remove a .
, a maker of sunglasses, had posted “Happy to Sit on Your Face” on a billboard on Coast Highway 101.
The wording was a play on its new Happy Lens, a line of sunglasses designed to make whoever wears them happier by letting in more sunshine to boost serotonin levels in the brain.
In a written statement, SPY officials explained that “an underwhelming minority made enough noise” for the billboard management company, Clear Channel Outdoor, to feel enough pressure to take it down.
The message was removed early Thursday morning, but it wasn’t without some outcry.
According to SPY spokesman Ian Riggs, a small group of locals gathered in front of the sign to protest, waving signs that read “Happy Censored” and “What Did Happy Ever Do to You?”
Riggs said the billboard will feature new art by Sept. 14 once Clear Channel Outdoor approves it.
Until then, SPY has asked that it remain blank in protest. Clear Channel Outdoor has apparently decided against that.
As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, an ad for Scripps Health was displayed on the billboard.
According to Clear Channel spokesperson Jim Cullinan, the company agrees "with many residents that the suggestive ad is inappropriate."
"We we alerted to the billboard due to a few complaints, but it was taken down because it was inappropriate and shouldn't have been allowed up in the first place," she stated in an email. "We spoke to SPY and they didn't object to us removing the ad."
"We apologize to residents of Encinitas and San Diego County for the ad."
According to a , a majority thought the billboard was clever. The latest unscientific results showed that 69 percent liked the ad, 19 percent found it offensive, and 10 percent were indifferent.
The topic sparked much debate, with comments pouring in on both sides, though most were in favor.
“As a longtime resident of Encinitas, surfer and father of two little boys, I think it’s funny. People need to lighten up,” offered one of the supporters.
Others took offense with one reader saying: “Executives of SPY, whatta ya thinkin!...Gotta be all men—disrespectful! Would love to be a fly on the wall when their children see the billboard and ask them for a definition!”
Riggs, the SPY spokesman, said the billboard was “the first nod toward the product's launch in February 2013.”
“The advertisement was removed due to the billboard company saying they received enough complaints where they felt it was necessary to take it down,” Riggs said. “We haven’t been given any numbers on the complaints.”
He also said SPY planned on replacing the billboard, “and we’re just waiting on approval of our new art before we can replace it, on or before Sept. 14, the earliest date it can be put up. Until then we have asked that the billboard site remain blank in protest.”
About 25-30 people were picketing at the billboard site Thursday morning, he said—“all in favor of the billboard.”