METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – TransLink is “pausing” announcements featuring Morgan Freeman‘s voice, following reports that several women are accusing the actor of inappropriate behaviour.
CNN reports eight women say they were victims of harassment and inappropriate behaviour by Freeman. The report suggests eight others witnessed the behaviour.
“We learned about these serious allegations along with everyone else,” says TransLink’s Jill Drews. “This is something we do take seriously as well, and that’s why we’ve decided to put a pause on airing the adds with Mr. Freeman’s voice for now.”
She says TransLink is now in conversation with Visa on what next steps will be. She clarifies the Freeman announcements were part of a Visa ad campaign, meaning his future participation in the campaign will ultimately be a question for the company to answer.
“To be clear, Visa bought space on our system to advertise their participation in the new Open Payment program. The content they choose to provide us will be up to Visa. Currently we have pulled the ads but we are still working with Visa on this Tap-to-pay campaign and that’s not changing.”
Announcements featuring Freeman’s voice (such as the one you can listen to below) were created as a joint promotion of VISA and TransLink’s new “tap payment” feature on transit.
Freeman had already recorded a series of announcements that would have been played across the system to promote the tap-to-pay feature and discuss bus etiquette.
Some ads have already run at SkyTrain stations, Drews explains. However, she says they were pulled before playing on several buses as was previously planned.
It’s unclear if the ads will continue to run if Visa chooses to move forward with Freeman, but Drews says this will also be part of discussions.
She adds the actor was not being paid by TransLink, but rather was paid by Visa. “They paid for space on our system and we’ve been working with them as a partner through this development of the Tap-to-pay program.”
Freeman has apologized to anyone who may have felt “uncomfortable or disrespected” by his behaviour.
Social media users offer up alternatives
Within hours of TransLink pulling the Freeman-voiced ads, social media users have been quick to offer up their own suggestions as to whom they would like to hear throughout SkyTrain stations and buses.
Tommy Chong, Jillian Anderson of X-File fame, and even Nardwar the Human Serviette have been suggested. Even Seth Rogan has already offered himself up.
However, Drews says any sort of celebrity endorsement will have to be reviewed.
“Or celebrity participation in any branding of our system would be something we’d have to discuss,” says Drews. “The Visa issue is something we will work with Visa on, but we are all for fun things on the system and we’ll see where that goes.”