Offending Tui sign to stay in Napier

By Doug Laing


A woman whose complaint against using the word "piss" on a Tui billboard in Napier has been turned down by the Advertising Standards Authority.

However, she is defying the authority's warnings not to go public.

Barbara McKelvie, of Eskdale, one of two people who complained about the beer billboard which was last night still in place across the road from Pandora Pond, was asked not to make her complaint public before February 2.

But, with a dig at the mail system, she wrote to Hawke's Bay Today , saying: "I am aware that this letter, in the hands of NZ Post, may or may not reach you prior to 2 February!"


She was "no prude" and liked a laugh, as she had many times over other Tui billboards since they first began appearing on busy intersections and along our highways 16 years ago.

But, not without plenty of consideration, she decided enough was enough when she saw the Pandora billboard, which reads: "Mate, I won't piss in your wetsuit. Yeah, right."

She even consulted husband Ross, who has a book of the billboard messages, and wrote online earlier this month, saying she felt the advertiser had "breached the standard of decency by using a vulgar, slang term for a bodily function".

But, in a remarkably quick response, the authority chairman ruled "no grounds to proceed", noting that the word "piss" comes in at No 20 on the Broadcasting Standards Authority's list of "What Not to Swear".

Some parallel was drawn with previous decisions relating to the word "pissed" in New Zealand police advertisements, calling it a word commonly used by their target audience and that it was a "very mild term". With the billboard still in place on the corner of Pandora Rd and West Quay, she said it was of particular concern that it is in a place where it can be seen by hundreds of children each day.

"The ex-teacher in me finds it offensive," Mrs McKelvie said.

"The grandma in me finds it offensive.

"It provides an interesting subject for discussion: What is acceptable, and are there different acceptabilities for different contexts?

"My instant reaction is of course there are. If this ad had appeared in a student magazine or other adult media, I could accept it.

"I do not accept it on a public billboard."

"If the word 'pee' had been used it may have passed the acceptability test.

"Maybe, in true Tui spirit, it should be reprinted to read: 'Mate I won't urinate in your wetsuit'."

Over the years, the billboards have provoked many complaints but usually the only ones upheld are those which poke fun at people, based on weight, hair colour or name.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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