Thou shall abstain from a sense of humour: Telecom and Saatchi & Saatchi’s anti-rumpy pumpy rugby campaign

If a sign of a successful campaign is the courting of controversy, then Telecom and partners in crime Saatchi & Saatchi are well placed. But the wealth of opinions that have gushed forth following the unveiling of the ‘Abstain for the All Blacks’ campaign seems to have those involved retreating for shelter. Meanwhile others have offered alternative campaigns of a similar vein.

The Abstain for the All Blacks campaign starts next week and asks supporters to abstain from sex during the World Cup as a sign of support for the team. If you want to gauge exactly who is taking the campaign seriously, those who pledge their abstinence are being asked to wear black rings to show they’re signed on. Adding further to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the campaign, posters featuring the phrase ‘Touch, pause and don’t engage’ will be popping up on bus shelters.

Funded by the BackingBlack, the NZRU-endorsed official fan club website for the All Blacks, the campaign is perhaps surprisingly being fronted by All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick who made this statement on the BackingBlack Facebook site:

“You may have heard that I am asking New Zealanders, on behalf of BackingBlack, to do their duty for the All Blacks and Abstain For The Game. That’s right, I am asking you to show your support for the boys. Watch out for more on this soon…”

These “sneak peak” and rather odd photos from the campaign were also posted.







One disgruntled response to Fitzpatrick’s statement reads: “This campaign idea barks like a dog. End it now and  learn a lesson from the whole ‘Wellywood’ sign debacle. The Aussies are already taking the piss, and who can blame them.”

And although the NZRFU is reported to not be overly pleased with the campaign, a statement released last night by NZRU commercial manager Paul Dalton shows it hasn’t thrown a tantrum over it. Dalton said the more humorous aspect of the campaign should be “obvious to everyone” and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

“Our partners manage their own creative ideas but we are in the loop on their latest campaigns, and as with other BackingBlack activity we expect this to be entertaining and get people talking.”

Telecom director of marketing Kieren Cooney is apparently bogged down by media enquiries so we’re yet to hear back from him. Likewise a call to Saatchi & Saatchi dredged up the sentence we most despise hearing, “we’re not commenting on that at the moment”.

But perhaps Telecom and Saatchi & Saatchi missed a better message altogether. Well, according to YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand they did. The organisation has spoken out saying the campaign’s efforts would have been better spent on a “safe sex, not abstinence” campaign.

“Instead of black rubber finger rings that promote abstinence, produce some black male and female condoms for fans. They will get much more use,” says Sarah Davies of YWCA.

With all the focus now firmly hinged on the Telecom campaign, Adidas must be thankful for the chance to come up for air. And now we wait for a cheeky brand to launch a campaign promoting copious amounts of sex to support our boys.


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