Sheep and sex get Kiwi thumbs-down
First came the idea to have bikini models on motorbikes drive 1,000 sheep through New Zealand's most cosmopolitan city. Then to urge rugby fans to abstain from sex and save their passion for the country's team.
New Zealand is gearing up to host the Rugby World Cup next month. But its promotional plans are going awry, with residents complaining that some of the concepts for celebrating the country's culture may just as likely invite ridicule.
"What were they thinking?" said Robyn Kippenberger, head of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which opposed the planned sheep run.
Organisers had planned to parade the sheep and the scantily clad women through Auckland as a climax to festivals throughout the country in the build-up to the World Cup final. But they cancelled the event amid an outcry.
Brian Rudman, a columnist for the New Zealand Herald newspaper, wrote that instead of showcasing the sophisticated culture, dining and fashion of Auckland, the event would have portrayed the city as a sheep-shearing village "on steroids."
Leon Grice, the director of NZ 2011 which is overseeing festival events, said the idea was to promote the best of New Zealand industry, from wine to agriculture.
Yet even as the sheep furore was dying down , a second controversy gathered pace.
Telecom, a sponsor of New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team, has launched a campaign urging New Zealanders to remain chaste, in a joking reference to the notion that some athletes abstain from sex before big matches to improve performance.
The ad features former team captain Sean Fitzpatrick congratulating fellow New Zealanders for "selflessly stepping out into the bed chambers of this fine country, throwing aside your natural instincts, and your lacy lingerie, standing proudly in your flannelette pyjamas and whispering 'I love you, New Zealand."
The campaign has swiftly prompted scorn, with a YouTube video of the ad drawing comments including "Thanks for making us a laughing stock" and "Abstain from Telecom."