Melon billboard stirs outrage

By Leigh van der Stoep

Steve Crow says people can expect a more shocking campaign this year. Photo / Doug Sherring
Steve Crow says people can expect a more shocking campaign this year. Photo / Doug Sherring

Steve Crow may have lost control of his once vast porn empire, but he's still smiling: he remains number one at causing offence.

A billboard for the Erotica Expo depicting a woman holding a juicy melon was the most complained about advertisement last year.

Pornography magnate Crow, perhaps somewhat perversely, is delighted.

The billboard was towed around Auckland in the week before August's adult entertainment expo, prompting 71 complaints from the public that were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Crow says he's pleased to have topped the authority's rankings, and the public can expect an even more shocking campaign this year.

"I'm happy - if we weren't number one, I wouldn't have been happy," he said. "I just think of the hundreds of thousands of people who saw the billboard and didn't complain."

The list of adverts causing offence was released this week as part of the authority's 2010 annual report.

Others on the list included an ASB Bank TV commercial showing a couple struggling to conceive a baby, which advertised loans for IVF treatment.

The advertisement received 39 complaints - but not one was upheld.

The authority upheld 12 complaints against a Sanitarium Weet-Bix TV commercial showing a group of children skateboarding and cycling in the middle of a road, around a blind corner.

Crow said: "Well, we're in good company then, with ASB Bank and Sanitarium."

Surprisingly absent from the most recent list was Hell Pizza, which has topped the list twice in the past five years.

Hell co-owner Callum James said his company didn't deliberately set out to offend people, but "if we think it's really funny and clever, it's just a byproduct. We've had a few complaints this year so maybe next year we'll be back in it."

Most controversial

1. EROTICA Expo billboard. A woman fingers a piece of melon in front of her pubic area. 71 complaints, upheld.

2. ASB Bank TV ad. Couple sell a car to pay for IVF. 39 complaints, not upheld.

3. Durex condoms bus and billboard. A naked man and woman in an embrace. 24 complaints, settled.

4. Fresh Up fruit juice TV ad. Portrays man being massaged by male masseur. 17 complaints, not upheld.

5. Whittakers chocolate TV ad. A naked man and woman. 16 complaints, not upheld.

6. Tui beer website ad. Shows a woman in lacy underwear. 15 complaints, settled.

7. Burger King TV ad. Shows a burger with a voice-over: "It's so good, even the most dedicated vegetarian could turn." 13 complaints, not upheld.

8. DB Export Beer TV ad. About "Black Budget". 13 complaints, not upheld.

9. Hampsta radio ad. Includes jingle with the word "bitch". 12 complaints, upheld.

10. Sanitarium Weetbix TV ad. Riding around a blind corner. 12 complaints, upheld.

- Herald on Sunday

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