Saatchi's Telecom 'No sex' Rugby World Cup campaign pulled after strong public backlash

Screen shot 2011-08-19 at 9.33.27 AM.jpgThe NZ Herald reports the now defunct "Abstain for the Game" campaign, created by Saatchi & Saatchi Auckland, probably cost Telecom hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop, say industry insiders.

The campaign, fronted by former All Black Sean Fitzpatrick, was to run during the Rugby World Cup urging All Blacks supporters to abstain from sex.

According to the Herald, at least two television advertisements were produced, posters were to be put in bus shelters and black rubber "pledge bands" were to be distributed among the willing. Telecom cancelled the promotion yesterday after a strong reaction from the public.



beegee said:

this deserves to go down as one of the worst.

ralf said:

How's that even offensive?? Looks funny, should've run it.

kev said:

just not funny.

Anonymous said:

Look, on many levels, this work should never have seen the light of day.

The idea to start with was just plain stupid.

The execution average.

The final result, not funny and certainly not loved.

Telecom was delusional to put money behind such a lemon and have paid a pretty expensive price for doing so.

Saatchis, seriously, what on earth were you thinking?

Anonymous said:

Seeya Saatchis.

Bye Bye said:

Nail in the coffin for S&S........

Lemon Anyone said:

A crass, pathetic attempt at humour. Head suit and creative (sic) should be fired. What on earth were Telecom thinking and who was that sherbert that fronted for them on Campbell and Sainsbury??? What a mess!

What on earth? said:

Look, on many levels, this work should never have seen the light of day.

The idea to start with was just plain stupid.

The execution average.

The final result, not funny and certainly not loved.

Telecom was delusional to put money behind such a lemon and have paid a pretty expensive price for doing so.

Saatchis, seriously, what on earth were you thinking?

manonomys said:

No need to try and be controversial when you already have the nations undivided attention.



Hale&Pace said:

Should have been this car:

Kevin Roberts said:

lovemark created

Mike said:

Absolutely rubbish.
Don't get it at all.
Don't think there's anything to get.

Anna said:

The beauty of this campaign is that you can publish any old crap at the moment and it'll look like genius by comparison.

Not Abstaining said:

Ah Wedde, you've finally been found out.

Bob said:

Saatchis you're crap.

Brendan said:

I don't think anyone at Saatchi's or Telecom would have seen this coming.
Sure the abstinence idea isn't great, or show any kiwi insight into rugby or humour at all, what has happened, is that the media have gone out of their way to expose and destroy a campaign before it’s even been born, and make Telecom and Saatchi look worse than they deserve.

Isn't the whole thing just another Rico style fan idea, housed solely online and not for mainstream viewing? Talk about blowing it out of proportion.

I for one would have liked to have seen the rest of the campaign and at least make a fair assessment. While the idea itself seems naive, weak and at best inoffensive, how the media have rallied against it, pulling everyone they can find on board some sort of prefabricated hate-wagon, is the most disappointing to me.

Anonymous said:

good work Matt and Cory - Last one out turn off the lights.

Rubbish said:

Makes you wonder whether Saatchis new creative director is still jet-lagged or just, well...

Madness said:

Brendan (9.47am), the central idea is terrible.

Honestly, don't you see that?

Look at the results achieved so far?

Easy fodder for the media because it really is that bad.

The public really don't like it. In fact, many people hate it.

Telecom have quickly killed the ad. (Despite all the money they spent on it.)

And here you are suggesting that this stupid, stupid, stupid idea should be seen and campaigned so we can make a 'fair assessment'.

Seriously, if you can't see the fatal flaws in this idea Brendan or don't realise the ad is unfunny, poorly written, badly executed and terribly should go get a job at Saatchis.

You'd fit in rather well.

paul taylor said:

mate - the media rallied against it 'cos it's fucking shit. it has one redeeming feature: - it's brave. but like a lot of bravery - very stupid as well.

anonymouse said:

Who cares. It's just a stupid ad.

knob said:

This industry really sucks. I would have liked to have seen the campaign run at least and then cast my judgement rather than misguidedly putting the boot. Not sure any other work for the Rugby world cup is singing right now. Telecom/backing black at least tried to do something new.

al dickman said:

A pink fist? Can someone please explain this?

Columbo said:

I'm deeply suspicious that this was "leaked" by accident...

Knob's mate said:

I agree with Knob. The really depressing thing about this whole thing is how quick we as an industry are to jump in and piss on each other. Talk about kick someone when they're down. Its a trait the media love to encourage and this industry in particular really seems to love. Its a shame.

Kev said:

this campaign has made the ad industry the laughing stock of NZ, so it deserves a bloody good kicking on this blog

Knob's mate mate said:

I agree with 9:07...

knob said:

Maybe if we'd been allowed to see the campaign , then the iconic pink fist car would have made sense. Seems out of context, but surely there was a reason for this, if not then the random nature of this is creative genius. Sadly due to the industry's spiteful media buddies this will never see the light of day. Now everyone back to your Harvey Norman ads, this is what NZ wants.

Fitzy's dog said:

Can't believe Paul Reynolds, CEO, Telecom, saying the idea was only in development. Paul, if that's the case then why was it actually shot?

I'd be interested to know if this could damage Saatchis relationship with Sanitarium whose conservative brand is linked with the All Blacks and kids by way of those rugby cards. Don't think Sanitarium will be too impressed.

alarm bells ringing said:

Wonder if Kevin Roberts can smooth over the troubled waters caused by this Saatchis brain fart?

Seriously, how much faith can Telecom have left in their agency? (Pretty sure they will 'sort out' their misguided marketing director.)

There must be 'final warnings' being fired across to Parnell at best.

Can you imagine what the rest of Saatchi's clients are thinking right now?

Sanitarium anyone?

Leaked or not, this ridiculous idea was truly dreadful and lame. Those who created it, approved it internally and presented it, should consider new careers.

Fisty said:

Wasn't Matt and Cory

Brendan said:

There's some genius suiting going on somewhere.

How all the stakeholders got across the line for this thing is nuts. And I find it hard to believe that Telecom top brass wasn't across it.

Using a generic sex idea, - featuring our most esteemed All Black captain ever - to sell the All Blacks for NZ's biggest client is pretty amazing if you ask me.

It's a shame it fell so hard, and totally raises the risk profile for any of our campaigns and the damage can be caused.
Especially once the likes of TVNZ, the Herald, and Radio Live started spreading mis-information.

Beaver said:

Telecom is a crap client. There, said it. Had to be done.

Yes, this is a shite situation, and perhaps the idea was lacking (I would like to have seen how it would have played out, then I might change my somewhat limited opinion on the creative), but I feel most sorry for the people whom worked on this.

Telecom has burnt a lot of ad agency folk over the years. Their reputation is one where most agencies around town would/should think twice should it ever go to pitch (not that I know anything or am I predicting).

Money/retainers do not make up for the amount of stress and hardship that this particular account can inflict. What's more, Telecom, like adidas, is a brand that would need a monumental amount of effort to get back into the good books of most New Zealanders.

So, back to the poor souls that worked on this; I feel sorry for you, I empathise with you, and I hope you can all move on without too many self inflicted wounds.

Heads have to roll. I'm sure the leak never came from agency side - no-one in adland is that stupid. The leak would have come from within Telecom. Telecom is awash with internal strife - it makes Libya look like a kiddies playground.

Finally, this campaign wasn't killed because it was a bad idea, it was killed, in my opinion, because someone within Telecom wanted someone elses' job. The best way to do it, get the media to do the killing. That way the guilty party will have clean hands.

lol said:

Bbeaver, your a dirty one. want a jon doing strategy at Saatchi's they could clearly use someone like you.

knob said:

Telecom are a terribly disrespectful client. A collection of clueless, ruthless cretins that killed their own brand. They don't really deserve an agency. If this goes to pitch, agencies beware. Sure, it's big, but then that's most of the problem, a political minefield for sure. They're not interested in making good ads or rebuilding their brand. As recent events have clearly shown. Implosion imminent.

Alex said:

It's hard to imagine how an iconic NZ brand could be systematically destroyed as much as it has under Saatchi's stewardship.

if there is ever a case for a 'Dislike-Mark' both Telecom & Saatchi & Saatchi have deservedly earned it. A litany of PR and branding disasters and ending up with a logo devoid of any heritage and evolution.

Ouch said:

How long before DDB paints on the smiles, straightens the ties and knocks on the door? about the quick and the dead...

Anonymous said:

So has anyone asked where the so-called 'leak' came from?

The merits of the campaign aside, there is one agency who is keen to win this business from Saatchi through fair means or foul. They also have an agency within their group who knew ALL about the campaign. They have openly talked about it amongst themselves for the last two months.

Doesn't take much to put 2 and 2 together on this.

I hope Telecom have a think about it.

Anonymous said:



'The Leakers' go in pretending to be saviours.

knobrot said:

Good luck to DDB if that's what they really want. Creative account it aint. It will certainly be there undoing. The telecom DNA is fundamentally wrong and will take a lot of fixing internally. Even the flavour of the month can't put that right. Please note case of colenso v vodafone.

Rico's Anus. said:

You baby Sherlocks are so cute. But It's obvious the leak is from the NZRFU. Any ad that mentions the rugby or all blacks is going through them. All RWC ads I've made have been emailed to them for script approval, then final mpg approval. It doesn't take much for one person over there to hate it, and forward it on with a WTF! to someone else.

Anonymous said:

Yeah right 4.43. You advertising novices are even cuter.

It doesn't take much for one agency to spread around the confidential ideas of an arch rival and muddy the waters, especialy if that arch rival has the account they want.

Omar said:

I'd still buy one of those rings, even if only to support our industry. The way the media acted and screwed us over here is despicable.

It wasn't even about the idea in the end. It was about a gigantic negative spin, backed up with fake facts that stirred up a perfect shit storm, that in the end couldn't fail, all for someones political agenda. This is like The Wire.

Well, Investigate mag anyway.

Anonymous said:

It's a genius hypothesis except for the fatal flaw of not resolving how DDB got Saatchi's to make the idea for telecom in the first place. Unless they planted the creative team, bribed the planner's & research agencies to back the plan until they were ready to spring the trap. You give both agencies too much credit.

Jon said:

It wasn't leaked. The video was first posted on Telecom's official BackingBlack facebook page last Thursday and attracted around 250 (mostly negative comments) within the first day. These were interspersed with responses from Sean Fitzpatrick himself defending the campaign and trying to keep the discussion positive. It was this overwhelmingly negative response that prompted Telecom to pull the campaign. The 'leak' excuse is just Telecom backpedaling.

Anonymous said:

What was Waldo trying to do, putting himself in the middle of the media fracas?

Anonymoose said:

Jon, how come the Herald article was Wedneday then.

john smith said:

it was a media fracas - he wanted in

knob said:

Jon, not sure where you've just crawled from, but the leak was in fact first to the herald who ran a front page on it on Thursday. Film was forced to be released directly as a result. Facts straight, now back to sleep.

Anonymous said:

I suspect 3.11 is right about the origin of the leak.

This is advertising boys and some of em play a lot dirtier than the others.

This whole thing stinks of a bad idea. But it also stinks of foul play.

And that stinks just as much. Ring says said:

Those black rings would be perfect for my new business venture. Adult Stores throughout the Asian region. Where can I pick up a few thousand?

Colombo said:

Mad Men, this is not......

Johnny Cash said:

Can someone please tell me which ECD was responsible for the creative.

1. Jeremy Taine
2. Antonio Navas

Anyone know exactly?

Fisty said:

All you conspiracy theorists obviously have nothing better to do.

Regardless, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how it got leaked. Saatchis created a terrible campaign. Agency side, they and they alone are accountable.

June Carter Cash said:

@ 3:12pm

The ECD was Jeremy Taine.

Johnny Cash said:

So who was the ECD at the time?

Seams like the the idea would have taken a while to brief, create, shoot, post and get out, so who conceived it is my question back around say April/May?


StinkFist. said:

Can't help feeling that everyone's judging a campaign no-one actually saw. No, I'm not a saatchi's fan/employee. I think I get the overall concept: Elite athletes abstain before major events, let's support them in kind (tongue in cheek). Perhaps they missed the mark, perhaps not. Will we ever know? Maybe an insider can release the full campaign on YouTube? That would help.

Who was the the ECD? said:

Jeremy Taine was the ECD?

Jeremy you out there for comment on this big idea?

Was it you mate or is a 7:09 trying to frame you?

bandwagon-er said:

so weak and baffling i have difficulty getting my head around it even getting made.


a moment of silence please for saatchis..

SLOWIE said:

This is a good number of responses, for such a late running of the story...

Woodward & Bernstein said:

I think it does matter how it got leaked and there should be some serious digging done into it. Regardless of the quality of the idea, it wasn't played out properly because it was leaked. It destroyed the campaign, undermined an agency and is resulting in a whole lot of shit being thrown and names being speculatively sullied, as above. Whoever leaked it should be called into question and their motives investigated. Sadly the advertising 'journalists' in this country are more interested in eating muffins.

Not Speculating said:

Jeremy Taine was the ECD.

I blame the parents! said:

Telecon would have got away with it if wasn't for those meddling kids and that dog!

As logical as the conspiracists said:

It was a scam anyway

Beaver said:

When I first saw the ad I thought the 'fistingmobile' was a mobile penis.

I then thought a mobile vagina was going to turn up, perhaps driven by a hot rugby girl. Or Buck Shelford.

Fitzy would deliver his speil, then he sets about chasing the vagina around the Auckland CBD/Eden Park/motorway Benny Hill style. But to no avail.

Now, that's an idea! That's selling! That's persuasion!

Fat said:

My BIg Fat Gypsy Wedding is on tonight. Great show..... oh , hang on, wrong blog. Um... Saattchi's and telecom, right... I hope someone can get the fist mobile into the Santa Parade. That would be cool.
Go the AB's

Fitzeys hand said:

Calling people out for leaking it is a joke. If it was great, it wouldn't be an issue, and be free PR. Basically the Saatchi people on here are saying if it wasn't leaked it would have been fine.

That is like getting angry with your brother for telling your parents as they walk in the house that you killed the family cat in a massive rage frenzy in the kitchen and the walls are covered in cat guts and blood.

You can be pissed off with your brother all you like, but sooner or later they were going to walk into a sad, gut wrenching disaster zone.

That said, I personally don't think the idea was that bad.

Woodward & Bernstein - The XXX edition. said:

I think it's more akin to going home early and setting the scene for your Mrs, and laying out flowers and putting wine in the fridge and porn in the DVD and lubing up her toy and putting it under the bed, but suddenly your phone rings and it's your Mother-in-law and she's watching you through the nanny cam you didn't know existed and she really wants to know wtf you are up to, but it doesn't matter what you say because she has always hated you and wants you to fail.

That's what I think leaking a campaign early is like. And my Mrs doesn't need a toy, just FYI, i don't even have one, it was just an example.

Fitzeys hand said:

Woodward & Bernstein - The XXX edition. - Good comeback, but what you are saying is someone was going to get fucked if it had all gone ahead. But the mother in law stopped it. So you would be correct.

Fisty. said:

Woodward & Bernstein, you're a dickhead. Digging into it? It's a private company spending its own money. If it wants to have a fuck up of epic proportions, that's its own business. Now go back to your intern desk and have a cry.

Observations from afar said:

I'm working abroad and heard about the campaign and have just stumbled on the blog here.

Take a quick step back and look at yourselves. You're funny, bitter, strange little fuc_wits. Really, aren't you?

The ad is diabolically bad. Utter bullshit, devoid of insight or charm. And fuck Telecom, what about poor old Fitzy's brand? Goodbye respect old man.

That aside, it's just an ad people. Pathetic, silly, grubby little Auckland ad people. Yuck.

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