How STM banned my ad image for Les Grands Ballets

STABAT MATER By Edward Clug, Dancer: Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya

Society de Transport de Montreal (STM) has refused to display one of my ad images in the city’s metro system, considering it to be unacceptable. The image in question was created for Les Grands Ballets as advertising for their upcoming premiere of "Stabat Mater" (Check out the FULL SHOOT). STM established that the poster could incite violence. 

A number of Montreal publications covered this story yesterday and I've been following the comments very closely since. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this topic. It made me think of two things. First off - double standards in the advertising industry. Blood is a big no-no, however a sexy underwear ad is totally cool (I'M FINE WITH BOTH, by the way). Secondly - strong public opinion, both positive and negative. It reminded me of recent ad campaign by the National Ballet and Toronto Transit called "We Move You". There was a small, but vocal group of people, who got really offended by.. wait for it.. how fit the dancers' bodies looked on the ad images. Google it. It feels as though backlash is imminent nowadays and I'm reasonable enough to understand how STM came to this verdict. 

An artist's duty is to challenge one's audience. I feel like we were able to make people argue about art. How can that not be a good thing?! I was happy to contribute to this debate and, in the end, I think it is a big win for everybody.




  • Client: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal /
  • Creative Direction and Concepts by Ivan Cavallari 
  • Marketing Team: Olivier Le Galliard, Pia Savoie, Marie-Laurence Cloutier, Sheila Skaiem, Amélie Lapointe
  • Photography: ©2017
  • Make-up: Marika D-Auteuil /
  • Hair: Valeria Amirova /
  • Dancers: Jéremy Galdeano, Hervé Courtain, Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya, Anya Nesvitaylo
  • Assistant: Mike Phang
  • Costumes: Melanie Ferrero & Stéf-Anne Lagacé