Parents who are "unfortunately cursed enough" to have "ginger spawn" are being told to trade them for free ginger beer.
Local company Hakanoa Ginger Beer's campaign has caused outrage, with an anti-bullying helpline saying the campaign's aim is to boost sales based on controversy.
"If they're consciously using the pain of some people in order to market a product, I really think that's crossing a certain line," Youthline chief executive Stephen Bell said.
The press release that was sent to media about the campaign for the Auckland company, which refers to red-haired children as "ginger spawn", says: "They say children are a blessing, but it's fair to say no parent sets out wanting a ginger child.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"So ginger-beer maker Hakanoa has given those parents unfortunate enough to be cursed with ginger children the opportunity to swap them for something they will want."
And Hakanoa's director, Rebekah Hay, is quoted as saying: "Parents of ginger children have a pretty tough lot in life. From the sympathetic glances, to the smirks to the feelings of shame, there's a lot for them to bear."
Ms Hay told the Herald yesterday evening that she intended the campaign to be light-hearted and not offensive.
The campaign poster which has been posted on the ginger beer company's Facebook page has met with some outraged comment, with one person saying it was "offensive to say the least".
Another person said they hoped the campaign would die.
"Awful - who's next? Kids with glasses? You've totally missed the point and have maybe created the worlds most un-inclusive ad campaign. Humour is best left to those who have some."