Scantily clad women enticing rugby fans at Forsyth Barr Stadium to a Dunedin pub has come as a surprise to venue management.

The women held up letters spelling "Meet us Starters Bar" during the Highlanders v Blues match last month.

The fans also had "Highlanders" written on their exposed midriffs and were standing in the front row of the western stand - a student area dubbed the "Zoo" by promoters.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) commercial director Guy Hedderwick confirmed the stadium was not aware of the promotion, and the girls would not be holding up the signs in future matches.


"We understand the Highlanders have an existing relationship with the bar and the Highlanders knew their presence would be made visible at the event," Mr Hedderwick said.

"The relationship between the venue and the Highlanders is that of venue hire agreement."

Asked for the venue's policy on ambush marketing, Mr Hedderwick said DVML was "careful to protect commercial rights holders and their marketing endeavours at all times".

"We do not encourage members of the public to engage in marketing activity within the venue. We will continue to monitor any such forms of marketing."

"If a blatantly obvious ambush marketing technique was to appear and it was a competing brand we would protect our commercial rights holders by having the signage/method removed under our terms of entry to the venue."

Mr Hedderwick said DVML was now in agreement for the Starters Bar to have a "non-commercial presence at future matches that would be seen to enhance the entertainment aspect within the Zoo area at Super 15 games".

Highlanders marketing manager Doug McSweeney said Starters Bar was the team's official ticket seller for the Zoo, and the aim for the Blues promotion was to "get some TV time".

"'We are going to take it to the next level now."

Starters Bar owner Janice Turoa said "you will have to wait and see" regarding the pub's next marketing scheme.

Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton confirmed the regional tourism organisation also had an agreement with the Highlanders to promote the city via seven overall wearing students.

The white overalls spelled "Dunedin" and the students were given free entry to the Zoo, he said.