What planet do the people live on who sit around dreaming up these wacky plans to leverage publicity for their brand from the Rugby World Cup ?

Following the adidas fiasco - if the price of that jersey had been any higher it might have been cheaper to buy an All Black in match strip and throw the player away - the abortive Telecom ad has provided us with a huge national cringe we could have done without the world seeing.

The campaign, dumped before it started, featured former All Black skipper Sean Fitzpatrick driving a car shaped like a pink fist (a fist?) and intoning the importance of national sexual abstinence as a way of supporting the ABs in "the great battle of 2011". (Telecom, not being a tournament sponsor, may not use the R, W or C word).

Quite how a lack of action in the bedrooms of the country would inspire unbeatable on-field fury in the 30 blokes whose names will be read out on Tuesday remains a mystery, particularly since expert opinion holds that celibacy doesn't help athletic performance even in the abstainer himself.


And the symbol of this campaign - a black rubber band - bore a wince-inducing resemblance to the things farmers use to make sure little lambs don't turn into big rams.

The suits at Telecom and Saatchi and Saatchi probably think that there is no such thing as bad publicity - but they would be wrong.

There is such a thing as a tin ear and this campaign was as out of tune as the (mercifully abandoned) plan to conduct a "running of the sheep" down Queen St as part of the RWC festivities.

As if we don't have enough trouble with sheep jokes already.

We probably need to brace ourselves for a tide of these inanities in the weeks to come, carefully worded so as to imply a brand's connection with the cup without running the legal risk of claiming it.

One hopes, though, that the initiatives to come show a greater respect for our intelligence than those that have been on show so far.