Take-Two sues Chicago Transit Authority

Publisher takes the city's public-transportation division to court over "outrageous decision" to yank $300,000 Grand Theft Auto IV ad campaign.

348 Comments

After the Chicago Transit Authority pulled an ad campaign for Grand Theft Auto IV last month, a representative of the city dismissed the notion that Take-Two Interactive could sue the CTA for an abridgment of its First Amendment rights.

"The CTA has the right to regulate and establish guidelines for advertising on its properties," the authority representative told GameSpot at the time.

However, today GameSpot confirmed a Reuters report that Take-Two has filed suit against the CTA, alleging not only a violation of its free-speech rights, but also a contractual agreement.

"Although we prefer to resolve these issues amicably," a Take-Two spokesperson said in a statement, "the CTA has refused to discuss with us its outrageous decision to pull advertising for the critically acclaimed game Grand Theft Auto IV while running ads for other forms of popular entertainment with similar content, including mature-themed TV shows and R-rated movies."

The suit was filed against the CTA as well as Titan Outdoor LLC, its external advertising agent. Take-Two is asking for an order that the CTA run the ads again, and pay at least $300,000 in damages. The six-week campaign of 385 ads was barely underway when the CTA decided to yank the advertising spots.

A CTA representative said at the time that the decision to pull the campaign was made not because of complaints over the GTA IV ads, but due to complaints over a series of ads that Take-Two ran in 2004 for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. That campaign was worth $90,000 to the CTA, and due to the fact that the ads had run their course by the time it became an issue, they didn't need to be pulled.

According to a CTA representative, the Grand Theft Auto IV campaign cost Take-Two Interactive $316,000, but the city's take of that would have been at most $205,400 after Titan had taken its cut. After the ads were pulled, the CTA said that Take-Two would not be charged for the aborted campaign.

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_guenter_26

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Im glad they'er being sued they shouldnt have pulled the ads.

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skyline7284

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Take two will do anything to get int he news, the whoel goal here is to sell more copies of GTA by getting your name into the news.... Does suing the Transit authority of Chicago even need to be done? Really can't they just pay back what they owe rather then make it a huge mess Ive never particularly liked GTA, but hey thats just me, i'm just sick of all this with Take Two...

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Tru_Slayer

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I'm sure the Chicago Transit Authority will be made fun of in the next GTA game. lol

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Fjackel

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Yeah, I don't see what was wrong with the ads I saw this on the news and the ads were just gta characters lined up holding up those signs showing they were arrested, if anything the advertisements were Anti Crime. Also the reason why they yanked them was because 30 people were shot and killed all around the city that weekend and they blamed it on ads, ridiculous

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Blazius2

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Yeah and if I don't recall, they had a crappy reason for taking them off.

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cooldude03

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A deals is a deal. If you back out, then you should pay.

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okassar

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Lol they got a point. T2 got to be paid.Chicago transit signed a contract and they had to go through with it.I wish I had GTAIV ads on my train,but I don't...cuz they got yanked.But this is Chicago,they had a point in trying to reduce all the violence here.The police are paranoid as hell in the Windy City, that doesn't mean that's a bad thing....could be in case of parking tickets and all.

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metallidoom33

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Fox News did a report that mentioned a "violent weekend" in Chicago, and then spotlighted the ad campaign. It's an obvious manufactured news story that has no relevance, but it seems to be the source of this trouble. I think Take-Two wins.

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darkdragonmage9

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sue them sue them back to the stone ages free-speech is very importent let alone they violated a contract the CTA and Titan Outdoor LLC are screwed

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android_M

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The CTA is full of crap. If they were so morally righteous why did they bother to run the ads for GTAIV after the controversy that resulted from San Andreas? After advertising for the predecessor dont you think they already knew what they were getting into with the next installment of the franchise? They knew what the ads were going to be depicting and they knew what the content of the game was like, they did it for the money plain and simple. And if they have some moral backlash afterwards--tough cookie-- that dont change the fact that they signed a legally binding contractal agreement. I say let them pull the ads if they want, hey its their property afterall thats boasting the ads, but just be prepared to pay back the money that they didnt seem to have trouble accepting before.

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daviwinn

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Sounds to me like they have a legit case against the CTA. I may not agree with advertising Mature (or R) rated material where underage people are exposed to it but that is an entirely different topic.

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Jazzism

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I wonder what Chicago would do if Age of Conan want to place ads... I think other companies may hesitate before placing ads in Chicago now.

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sykomyko

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It's all the damn yuppies! They wine about everything. A bunch of wussies if you ask me. They are not only destroying Chicago, but America in general! Free country my ass! DEATH TO THE YUPPIES!!!

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jsrock_on54

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at least they didnt blow upt he ad campagn like the idiots did in boston with the aqua teen ads

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Ek-Andy

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I dont know what to think of this, but it was a ridiculous reason to pull the ad campagin in the first place. Complaints for an ad campagin 3 years ago led to this being pulled? Que? If they had just let it be this would not have been a problem, and still really shouldnt be a problem seeing as GTA 4 dosnt need any more advertisement. You cant escape it, yet its not in stock anywhere.

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ngboy

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i don't think this has anything to do with money. take two will make enough from the game. it's about a written and signed agreement that was broken by one side. good for take two for not being pushed around and taking a stand on this.

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someguy503

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I have no opinion on the matter!

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AlphaHawkP

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Well, they brought this on themselves now didn't they?

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Predator123

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Take Two rocks!

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Bodboy466

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I have to agree with the few reasonable people speaking here. Take-Two really didn't miss out on much by not getting the advertising in Chicago for this already massive game, since they weren't even charged for the campaign, but in my experience, Transit systems need all the money they can get. If Take-Two pulls in money on this despicable act of greed, expect a few drivers to be losing their jobs, and maybe a few routes or stops to be cut.

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delcidanddarth

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For everyone saying this is not about freedom of speech, listen to starcutter20000's words: "I guess they thought it was some "moral" thing to pull it down and put up more "wholsome" entertainment." This is not a private company (which can choose to do business with whoever they want. This is the government. And they are literally deciding what is and isn't "moral" enough to advertise. Do you want appointed government officials discriminating what is advertised? I understand their regulating of such material (as is their job), but biasing against a company is not their job, nor is it constitutional.

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blackdragon303

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YEA!!! You go take-two, stick it to the man

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ColdRush88

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Nice to see Take-Two not taking this ridiculous b*******. Ditching an ad-campaign just because of adverts for a 4 year old game is just a bit mental.

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Zetona

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It's good to see the video game industry suing someone else for a change.

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agni_1

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Great.. I live in chicago and I know for a fact that Chicago is in serious money problems even with Taxes at ridiculously high prices(Try like 8 bucks for a pack of cigarettes). So I guess I can look forward to another tax increase if CTA loses.

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Dman4Life1217

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they'll settle out of court. more than likely take two will ask that the ads be run for an amount of time that is slightly more than what was originally agreed to to make up for lost sales, and not be charged for the ads and be given their 300k back. the CTA will agree to this, because take two can literally take them to the cleaners on multiple things. breach of contract, discrimination, and slander/liable. Then the CTA would be paying back 10x what they originally stood to lose from the yanked ads

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delcidanddarth

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This is for everyone saying that CTA has the right to put up whatever they want on their property. From their very own website, << LINK REMOVED >> "The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is an independent governmental agency created by state legislation. The CTA began operating on October 1, 1947, after it acquired the properties of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and the Chicago Surface Lines. On October 1, 1952, CTA became the sole operator of Chicago transit when it purchased the Chicago Motor Coach system." As you can see, this is not a private company, it is a government entity. As such, of course the CTA has the right to regulate what it advertises, but only in a fair, constitutional way. Which means, the CTA cannot discriminate against a particular company if the content is basically the same as other advertisements they regularly post. TT's argument is because they advertise equally violent media (movies, tv, music), the CTA must advertise their GTA stuff. This might sound incredibly non-free market, but that's exactly what the government is. They can't pick and choose what they want to do whenever they want. They have guidelines to follow. Would you want the CTA to put up advertisements for one religion, but bar another? Or maybe more likely, would you want the CTA advertising for (and only for) companies that the CTA's board of directors are involved in? BTW, their board of directors are appointed from multiple government positions from around the state of Illinois, from the mayor of Chicago to the governor of Illinois.

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Amir29

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If this were the eighties and early nineties, I would have to agree with Chicago's move to not help advertise such a violent game. But as it turns out, there is a rating system in place (ESRB) because of the fact that video games are now another form of entertainment media that may target many different ages. An "M" rated game is the equivalent to "R" rated movies. Since Chicago obviously allows rated "R" films to advertise, we can safely assume that the decision is based on the media in which Grand Theft Auto IV was placed in. With that in mind, I don't see how Take Two interactive will not only have their $300,000 returned, but will also (most probably) receive a large sum for breach of contract, descrimination, and damages (profit loss) aswell.

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ashuncc2

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Good for Take-Two. If CTA is in a contractual agreement, they should complete their agreed upon actions.

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starcutter20000

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I guess they thought it was some "moral" thing to pull it down and put up more "wholsome" entertainment.

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mariomusicmaker

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Just today i saw an add for a movi e and it had a man cut clean in half with his gorey intrails hanging out the back being dragged behind him while he crawls away. And they had no excuse to have adds like that but pull gta adds... GO TAKE TWO! hope you get more then just your money back... should also get lost sails.

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majestikk

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I tip my hat off to Take Two. Why the hell should GTA IV be discriminated against when they're other ads with similar content allowed. I'm with Take Two on this one! GTA IV is one of the best games all time.

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scytheofluna

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It kills me that people don't have anything to say about movies like Hostel, or The Hills Have Eyes, but GTA always gets a wave of controversy, despite it's satirical tongue in cheek nature. Whiny mothers who can't be bothered to be involved in their kid's lives always try to blame the entertainment industry for their failures as parents, and this is just another symptom of GTA being the favourite scapegoat. Take Two should sue the hell out of those fools. This is a mature rated title, and it's being marketed accordingly. Up here in Toronto there are ads for it everywhere, they aren't offensive, and they merely illustrate that the game is available to those who are old enough to buy it. Does the first amendment mean nothing anymore? If not, I'm not coming back to the states.

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deathscythe999

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This makes no sense, are they complaining that GTA4 lost some advertising? Weren't the people who were going to buy this game waiting for it with baited breath since GTA:SA.

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krapsrocks

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Lame. With the violence, sex, and stupidity on tv to draw the line on a form of media that you have to go out and buy is beyond comprehension. Why does nobody care when the divorce rate is almost 50 percent and we have shows like "swapping spouses?" A video game that is made for adults and doesn't force you to be exposed to it's context is a lot less threatening then watching the local news and having your kids hear stories of rape, incest, and murder every evening.

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deactivated-5893d0a8c8591

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Well, they should be suing them no matter the case. I mean, $300,000 dollars is a lot of money any way you look at it.

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mysterylobster

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"For all the people saying this is a waste of time and money for T2... This case won't cost T2 anything, they will settle it out of court and the CTA will just pay up." If this goes anywhere near a courtroom, T2 will end up paying for the CTA's legal fees. As the CTA said, they have every right to regulate what is put up on their property. Also, T2's demands are completely unreasonable. They want the CTA to repost their ads *under order*? That's the only thing resembling a valid free speech issue I see in this whole story.

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reckeweg

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There is no freedom of speech issue here. The only thing Take Two has on the CTA is breech of contract. Now, what I don't get is, I was in Chicago about a month ago and on the local news was a piece about how the CTA running dangerously low on revenue and they were contemplating canceling some routes and increasing fares across the board. If thats the case why would pull an ad campaign that stands to provide you with extra revenue?? Anyone from Chicago can back me up on this.

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garey017

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I agree with IG completely. There is no freedom of speech violation, the CTA has a right to regulate what is on their property. I do see a potential breach of contract though.

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mysterylobster

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Fates: "we're going to pull the ads and keep the money TT gave us even though we agreed to the ads" Did you not read to the end of the article? That's kind of important to do before you try forming an argument. Pay special attention to the part that says, "CTA said that Take-Two would not be charged for the aborted campaign."

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IGDetail

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Oloryn: who knows :lol: I like that explanation better than any I've read so far.

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Oloryn

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Who are we kidding, EA handed the CTA a chunk of change to take down the ads to teach TT that the "family" gets what the "family" wants, and if you resist, there will be consequences.... ...heh, okay maybe not, but I wouldn't put it past em

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zeus_gb

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It's all been blown out of proportion. The CTA has told TT that they won't be charged for it so what's the problem? Isn't there enough ads on TV and on almost every billboard around?

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IGDetail

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Fates: why the condescension? I understand the "breach of contract" part, but didn't get the "freedom of speech". There's also parts of the agreement no one here has information to, unless you're part of TT and read the thing (in which case, please share). As many have stated here, many contracts have agreements built in that gives both parties a way to break out under certain circumstances (not outlined above). If they hired a proper advertising firm, I bet they understand the law behind advertising contracts pretty well and wouldn't break the deal if they couldn't. Grigjd3 said it best.

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INFAMOUSHAVOC

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lol i live in Chicago this is nothing new the CTA is always getting suited why because they hire dumb worker who have no sense of though lol that why there always asking for the state to bail them out of jams because they get suited for the little thing that turn out to be big

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FatesMessenger

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IG: To make this a little easier for you to understand I'm going to make a mini time line with the major events. TT proposes ads for GTA 4 to CTA for $300,000 (Money goes to the CTA) CTA agrees and signs contract, taking the money and allowing ads to be put up. CTA later says "Hey, I don't like these ads, even though I knew about them when I signed an agreement with TT and taking their money, but being the self rightous idiots we are we're going to pull the ads and keep the money TT gave us even though we agreed to the ads" TT sues for breach of contract

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delcidanddarth

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This issue is more than TT getting their money back. As the CTA already pointed out, TT wouldn't be charged for the pulled ads (that would be robbery). Instead, TT is suing because these advertisements were supposed to be in place up to and during the release of their game, which may have caused a substantial loss in local sales. Whether that's true or not is up to a judge, but what I don't like about this is the timing of CTA pulling the ads. It was in very poor judgement to agree to this deal, and then, at the last second, renig on the deal. That gives TT very little time to find another avenue for these advertisements. Another problem is the Chicago Transit Authority is a government fixture, and therefore should be much less biased when it comes to advertising. If the local law says these advertisements are too distasteful, that's one thing. But for the CTA to advertise violent movies and sexy TV shows, and then turn down TT is a blatant misuse of government authority.

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ecofriend

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TakeTwo rightly should win this case. There was an agreement made and then broken. The party that broke the agreement should be held liable for damages.

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grigjd3

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This article seems limited enough on the details such that it is hard to make any judgement.

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IGDetail

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Fates: good, we agree :P So why all the arguing about freedom of speech? They're going to have a problem deciphering who's responsibility it is though if they used an agency who made their own judgement....

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