So there I was working in Burger King when the head of Telecom marketing came in. "Give me two Whoppers," he said. "All right," I said, "Your job is safe for ages and the Let's Not Have Sex To Support The All Blacks campaign is a real winner."

What is it with this Rugby World Cup? Why is it attracting such boofhead corporate efforts to win the limelight? First we have adidas seeking to set itself on fire with the jersey debacle; then Greg Martin - normally one of the least offensive Aussies - wades in with a bit of an upchuck on how the haka should be banned; and then Telecom with its now-ditched "fun" campaign.

It's all supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, you see. Rhubarb. These three have been about as funny as Bill English embalmed. Tongue-in-cheek? I'll tell you what tongue-in-cheek is. It's Noel Coward, unable to make the opening night of a play starring Edith Sitwell, and who sent her a telegram to advise her of the fact. It read: "A warm hand on your opening."

Adidas simply reinforced many preconceived ideas about Germans. I remember being at a resort in Thailand, overworked and in need of a rest. I went down to the pool after a particularly satisfying sleep only to find all the loungers unoccupied - but with towels strategically placed on them.


Next morning, I was up earlier - long enough to see vast quantities of German tourists rise, place their towels on the loungers and then head off to breakfast, where they would sit for hours, eating sausage and pancakes in quantities that would rival a small continent in size; then arrived like stately galleons at the pool. There they would lie, burping and farting, breaking the indolence only to order more food and drink.

Next morning, I got up and biffed all the towels on the loungers into the pool. It made no difference. After a small show of surprise, Germanic stubbornness and precision reasserted themselves. They got more towels and the whole cycle repeated itself.

If you know that adidas is a German company, overlay the All Black jersey business with the towels story and you possibly have an answer why adidas stubbornly defended itself with arrant nonsense and tried to heavy innocent websites who were selling the jerseys at inconveniently reasonable prices.

All of that has made me think I shall never buy anything adidas again. As for Telecom, the No Sex thing made me laugh, all right. But, Telecom,I wasn't laughing with you. I was laughing at you.

Any company that tries to sell a campaign for people not to have sex to support the All Blacks has serious judgement issues. Hey, look at me, I'm not having sex ... There's a word for that. Rhymes with banker ...

Telecom dropped the cellphone down the loo on this one. It was a naked, twee effort to grab attention but, just like adidas, with scant regard for the intelligence of those whom they were trying to entertain with their new, jolly, friendly, edgy brand image.

What about the coup de grace - the black rubber band you wear round your finger to show your support? Was it supposed to symbolise the rubber band farmers fit round the bollocks of lambs which makes them drop off? Wow, get me one ...

They probably got the wrong people to lead the campaign too. I would have gone for Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York - she was once heard to say:"I couldn't believe it the other day when I picked up a British newspaper and read that 82 per cent of British men would rather sleep with a goat than me." Perfect for it, she was. Bad news for the goats, maybe, but let's not cloud the issue.


At least I won't have to make a resolution not to use Telecom's services. I am already Telecom-free - born of a return to New Zealand after many years of living overseas and discovering that the underwhelming and over-priced Telecom broadband internet was like Grok The Caveman compared to other parts of the developed world.

The funniest thing has been watching the NZRU try to support its sponsors' crackpot efforts. They can't very well call them a load of dropkicks - but they must have hated seeming like the household that throwsa party for an honoured family guest, only to find that the guest of honour has disgraced himself with Grandma's nurse and wiped himself on the drapes.

Which leads us to Greg Martin and the haka. Martin was a decent, brave Wallaby fullback in his playing days and one of the less rabidly Ocker TV commentators these days - but falling back on the haka to whip up a bit of attention? Tongue-in-cheek? Tongue in toilet bowl.

Martin wibbled on about how the young Wallabies were "scared" and how it gave the All Blacks an advantage. Most of this twaddle isn't worth replying to but, even accepting it was an attempt at a wind-up, allow me to make the point that it might be funnier if the nation aiming the darts actually had a good record regarding its own indigenous people.

Australia is a genuinely cosmopolitan nation witha society at least partly built on the efforts and character of immigrants - Greeks, Lebanese, Italians, Brits, Yugoslavs, Sudanese and people from other African nations, to name but a few.But they have never come to grips with their own cultural background.

To defuse the All Blacks' haka, they used to employ some country singer wearing an Akubra and a guitar who used to try to whip the home crowds into a frenzy of Waltzing Matilda until even the Aussies were embarrassed and asked the rugby union to cut it out.

Australia has so many things going for it and the exuberance of its people has to be taken hand in glove with the fact that some - usually white, European-descended blokes - have gobs that can fit round the business end of a didgeridoo.

They have apologised to the Aborigines but not made reparations. If they did, they may discover a culture that they can use to effect against rugby adversaries, rather than sweeping it under the carpet and then complaining about someone else's culture.

While we are at it - can we ditch all this blatant self-promotion ahead of the World Cup? It's not fun, or funny, it's not tongue-in-cheek. It's pathetic. Bring on the rugby. Please.