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Furore Over Use Of 'Dirty Bitches'

Furore Over Use Of 'Dirty Bitches'

Three billboards featuring a couple of dirty bitches are to be taken down in central Auckland this week after a series of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.

The billboards at the centre of the controversy – advertisements for the Auto Trader website – bear the slogan "We've got rides for dirty bitches". Next to the slogan, two fluffy dogs peer eagerly from the window of a muddy 4X4.

Five complaints have been made about the billboards – four to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and one directly to Auto Trader's publisher, ACP Media. The complaints centred on the use of the word "bitches".

The ASA will make a decision about the complaints on Tuesday; however, ACP Media plans to bring the billboards down before that date.

"The billboards have been hotly debated since they went up last month. It looks like we are really in the dog-house over this one," says ACP Media's Trader Group Marketing Manager/Business Development, Tina Clyma.

Two 6X3 metre billboards were hoisted into place on Cook Street and Newton Road in Auckland central on 31 August. A 22.7 metre long billboard went up on the ACP Media building at 100 Beaumont Street on 8 September. All three will be taken down as a result of the complaints.

Mrs Clyma says the campaign was tongue-in-cheek and meant no offence.

"The billboard was not meant to cause offence to anybody. It was a cheeky reference to New Zealander's love affair with vehicles, and we hoped that it would be taken in the fun spirit it was intended.

"New Zealanders are internationally recognised for their ability to laugh at themselves. We really played on that with this campaign."

The irreverent campaign kickstarted in Auckland in July as part of the relaunch of Auto Trader, which hit both the newsstands and cyberspace simultaneously. The new website – www.autotrader.co.nz – is currently the most comprehensive online vehicle market in New Zealand.

The campaign’s creative, produced by Auckland-based advertising agency Mr. Smith, taps into New Zealand’s car psyche with humour and a passion for motoring. The campaign has been hugely successful says the agency's creative director, John O'Leary.

"The whole campaign leverages off the great following Auto Trader has. We brought the magazine and website together and it has been working really well. People tell us they love the campaign; and it's working – we've had 29,000 new users on the website in the last two months," he says.

Unique users to www.autotrader.co.nz have increased 25 percent since July 2005 to 100,400.

Tina Clyma says two other billboards also feature in the Auckland campaign but they have had no complaints about either of them so far.

Other campaign initiatives include email broadcasts to Traderpoint.co.nz’s 200,000 members, bus and bus-shelter advertising, and promotion through the Motor Buyers Guide, delivered to 440,000 homes.

ENDS


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