Complaints over an advertisement for ginger beer that poked fun at redheads and encouraged people to swap them "for something you really want" have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The street posters for Hakanoa ginger beer, which appeared around Auckland in late July, featured a woman leaving a red-headed child with a shop keeper in exchange for a six-pack of ginger beer.
The ad said that "no one really wants a ginger" and that if you've got one, "bring it in and we'll swap it for something you really want, a delicious six pack of Hakanoa ginger beer".
A number of complainants to the ASA said the ad was likely to cause ridicule for people with red hair by saying they weren't wanted.
The ASA upheld the complaints, saying the ad "encouraged discrimination against redheads and that they were a group to be ridiculed".
It also said the use of the "ginger" stereotype, combined with the ad's wording, was likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
In their response to the complaints, the makers of the ginger beer, small Auckland company Hakanoa Handmade Drinks, said the ad was supposed to be a joke.
The advertising agency that came up with the idea, M&C Saatchi, said they went to great lengths to ensure the ad could not be construed as realistic.
"Never was the promotion established as a real redemption offer nor did the sentiment in any way reflect the stance of Hakanoa ginger beer on red-headed children," the agency said.
The advertising campaign was pulled early due to a massive public outcry.
Both Hakanoa Handmade Drinks and M&C Saatchi apologised for any offence caused by the ad.