Watchdog unhappy with Michael Jackson billboard

Sunday Star Times 06/12/2009

A Tui beer billboard erected next to a Dunedin school playground that poked fun at Michael Jackson’s death and the sexual abuse allegations he faced has sparked a complaint to the country’s advertising watchdog. The billboard carried the wording “Don’t worry, MJ touched me too. Yeah right” and was painted on the wall of a building neighbouring George Street Normal School, in central Dunedin, after the sudden death of Jackson in July. The school’s board of trustees received complaints from children, parents and teachers. The board, concerned particularly about the message the billboard was sending the community about child abuse, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In considering whether the billboard breached the advertising standards, the ASA unanimously expressed concern about the location of the billboard next to the school. However, it was divided on whether the billboard crossed the boundaries of good taste. The ASA said while the majority of its members were of the view that most children, and many members of the public, would interpret the message at face value and not be knowledgeable about its double meaning, a minority thought the advertisement did have “sexual implications” and had been inappropriately published in a highly visible manner