Challenge Accepted

Richard at the Friendly Atheist recently posted his suggestions for ‘soft sell’ pro-atheist billboards, including:

To which we at the Skepticon team say:

We’ve priced billboards in the Springfield area and think it can be done for as little as $2,000 – and if we end with more? We’ll put it on buses in St. Louis and Kansas City. Here’s our concept template:

(Note that this is an updated version of our first concept, altered based on your comments and suggestions.)

But, internet – we need a star. And there are so many deserving candidates! Like these kittens punching holes in their known universe:

And these bulldog puppies:

And this fluffy kitten! And this awkward pair! And this slightly less awkward group of baby critters

Help us decide, internet!

[poll id=”2″]

And please, please help us pay for it.

52 Comments

  1. I choose the kittens graphic and I think it should read, “Kittens are Cute.” The alliteration flows better than, “Baby animals are cute.”

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  2. “Buses carry many people” is the best one because it at least references the cause a bit :->

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  3. I’m not sure the template works as well as the original. In the original proposal, the word “atheist” is right in front, and definitely noticeable. In your suggested template, “atheist” is buried.

    As for the phrasing, I agree with Travis. “Kittens are cute” and go with the kittens.

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  4. Atheists are Cute

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  5. A couple thoughts.
    I agree with Dan. The Buses message is a better match. However, the choice is up to the person making it happen.
    It might be worth a few emails to find a local zoo and ask for pictures of their baby animals, and listing the zoo’s name on the Billboard at the same time. Skepticon could still offer to pay the full price, just to get their name out there.

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  6. The kittens punching holes don’t look like kittens or baby animals at all. They look like adult cats.

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  7. I like the kittens punching holes in their known universe best, but having a dog and a cat and maybe a cute, really cute llama and a cow and a reptile would circumvent the dog/cat/reptile owner hatred.

    I like the billboards with a message like Drive Safely, or Have You Hugged Your Mom Today, but with cute pics.

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    • Cows aren’t cute.

      They’re evil harbingers of doom, trying to take over the world.

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  8. I love the idea, but I do agree that “atheist” could be more noticeable. How will we know if they are offended, if they can’t see what they shouldn’t be upset about anyway?

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  9. Howz about “Cute Kittehz don’t believe in gods either.”

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  10. Text on the right is way too small. People won’t be able to read that driving by.

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  11. I would like to see something like “Appreciate Those You Love” with an old grandmother getting a kiss and a flower from her grandchild. Or “Been saved lately? Then thank your doctor for all those years of studying, the firefighters for their selflessness, the teachers for not giving up on you, your thoughtful neighbor who keeps a watchful eye on your home, your best friend’s mom for buying you a winter coat…” and then keep listing a whole bunch of random actions that people would otherwise say “thank god for Mr Jones”. Have the sentences at the top of the poster be large and as the list goes on the lines become smaller and eventually fade.

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  12. Greetings,

    I am a lobbyist for Kittens Punching Holes http://istockpho.to/wTUvLI (Less Awkward Puppies & Kittens)

    To be run with the caption: “Atheist Baby Animals are Cute” instead.

    You have to give the fundies something to chew on…

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  13. I had several comments about problems that could be faced if this were done wrong, then I noticed that none of these related to kittens punching holes, which is in the lead already. So I voted to keep it there.

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  14. I like the kittens punching holes best. They look a bit like they were looking for something and are a bit nonplussed not to find anything behind the screen. Their expressions sort of say “Huh, no God back here either… Has someone been pulling my leg???”

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  15. I like the idea, and the kittens punching holes is my favorite.

    But, the important words are too small and there are too many of them. This would be impossible (for me at least) to take in driving by. I’d suggest an overall simplification.

    I’d get rid of Baby Animals Are Cute — it’s redundant — the image of the baby animals takes care of that message.

    I’d leave just something like:

    skepticon.org
    Midwest’s largest atheist convention
    November, 2012

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    • I agree actually, there’s no need to boast about Skepticon’s achievements. Skepticon – Atheist Convention then the URL below would be plenty. The two lines of text turning it into an actual sentence aren’t really necessary.

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  16. I like the cats punching holes because it reminds me a bit of ceiling cat, and I think that an atheist billboard with a ceiling cat reference would be fantastic

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  17. What about getting pictures of puppies/kittens from a local shelter instead? That would make the billboard not only be totally innocuous, but it would relate atheists with what I hope everyone feels is a good cause.

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    • The problem is that religious people have been known to boycott organizations that allow themselves to be associated with atheist events. The last thing we want from this is for puppies to be left without a home.

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  18. I think kittens punching holes will be too easily misconstrued and defeats the purpose.

    Yes, there’s that hidden topic but it’s not that hidden. The challenge is to see if the theists are offended by ATHEISTS, not to see if they can read some veiled pun where there actually IS a pun.

    I think using the kittens punching holes defeats the purpose of the challenge.

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  19. Less Awkward Puppies & Kittens needs more votes. They actually are babies where the cats punching holes are not.

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    • I agree. The “Less Awkward” works best, has a variety of animals, and offers nothing unusual (i.e. cats punching through the billboard) to distract the viewer from noticing the message and the sponsor. And I agree that the conference logo needs to be much larger, especially the word “ATHEIST”. Few viewers will understand “Skepticon”, so that needs to be small.

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  20. Voted for the puppy & kitten, but I second the suggestion of changing the top line to “Kittens are cute” if the first picture is chosen.

    “Buses carry many people” made me smile as an in-joke re: previous bus campaigns, but that’s also an obvious hook for any reporters who might end up covering this. Pro: might get more coverage with an easy lead-in like that, con: contaminates the experiment. :p

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  21. Kittens Punching Holes could be seen as violent, so I would exclude that. Bulldog Puppies, similarly, could be seen as an submissive/aggressive posture, so I would exclude that as well. And Fluffy Kitten only has one animal, so pedantically I would exclude that. If we are going to be in offensive, we should go all out and eliminate as many possible complaints as possible.

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    • Plus, bulldogs, of any age, are not CUTE! They are UGLY.

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  22. None of those.

    Please find better pictures!

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  23. I’m with those not digging the cats punching holes. Doesn’t make any sense – not obviously kittens, look more like grown cats. Plus, seems to be some kind of message or thing going on there that just isn’t obvious without explanation. I think what would be better would be the baby seal photo that someone posted, or a zoo baby image (if you can get the rights) that tends to provoke an involuntary “awwwww” in anyone who isn’t a robot, and because those would avoid the cat/dog lovers or haters.

    Sorry to be negative and not offering to help make it happen, but I think next time it might be better to try using the Kickstarter.com model for raising money for such a thing. I’m reluctant to contribute to a project if I’m not sure it will be fully funded and ever happen. Kickstarter would mean my donation only goes through if there’s enough funding and support to ensure it’ll really happen.
    My 2 cents.

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    • Cats -> Curiosity -> exploring (and punching holes in boundaries) -> ATHEISM!

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      • Now I’m thinking that the kitten-punching image should go with text like “Curiosity doesn’t really kill cats” or something. It’s more relevant anyways!

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  24. Alpacas. That is all.

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  25. You guys clearly aren’t trying hard enough. You call that cute? This is cute. Baby birds, baby bunny, and what’s that thing in the back?

    Amateurs.

    I voted for the kitties punching through the paper, BTW. I’m sure someone will find that offensive.

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    • That bunny & birds pic is MUCH cuter than any of the voting choices.

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  26. Kittens, puppies suck. Need spiderlings instead.

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  27. I have voted for kittens (cats?) breaking through, and chipped in a little. But I still would like to put in a good word for ‘Buses carry many people’. Okay, it’s not quite such a pure experiment, but it is an utterly non-controversial statement on its face (many religious people will be offended by the claim that you can be good without God, but there’s no way they can take offence at the face value of the buses statement). And if they want to read into it a subtler meaning, like the idea that buses carry people of many different viewpoints, and we’re all on the same bus whether we are religious or not – well, that’s just them seeing what they want to see:-)

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  28. “Kittens are cute – and they’re atheists too.”

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    • Do any of these pictures appear to be of overly selected pedigree animals? I couldn’t tell a persian cat from a tabby.

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  29. See, us atheists & skeptics don’t eat babies! We love babies (kittens, anyway)!

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  30. You may also want to look at http://sxc.hu/ (The Stock Exchange) for photos that you can get for no charge.

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  31. Nothing says ‘cute’ like misspellings and baby talk. How about a big caption:

    “Wy doesn’t you lubs us? We weaawwy, _weeawwy_ lubs oo.”

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  32. Puppies and kittens *are* cute but I want to vote for Baby Octopus.

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  33. It’s all good. All that’s needed is a warm fuzzy image and the word “atheist” clearly nearby. Associating the word to the feeling over and over is very good.

    Baby Octopus is cute, but only to an atheist.

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  34. None of these are cute. You need actual baby animals (not adult cats, as in the punching-through picture), and they need to be fuzzy. Try bunnies, baby birds, baby hamsters, etc. And their pose must be innocuous. No punching, no rolling. Just sitting.

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  35. They’re SkeptiKats! Punching holes in superstition!

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  36. I like the kitties idea, perhaps with a tag line saying Ceiling Cat isn’t real, either.

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    • I think the point of it was to have something *entirely* innocuous (so, “isn’t real, either” kinda defeats that purpose).

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  37. Definitely looking forward to the followups on this!

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  38. (O.o)<KEETTINSS

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