The story, via the NZ Herald:
A ginger beer maker whose advertising offered to swap a ginger child for the drink has apologised for offending people, and has asked for police help given the strength of the criticism.
The public backlash left Hakanoa Ginger Beer maker Rebekah Hay frightened and in tears.
“I’m sorry I offended people. It was the reason behind the campaign that made us say yes. I wouldn’t have done it if it was just a joke.”
She revealed that she only agreed to the campaign after a marketing manager, Dave King (of ad agency M&C Saatchi), came to her with the idea after his ginger-haired son had been bullied.
For Ms Hay, 49, the approach came at a time she was trying to work out how to push her one-woman, one-employee business to the point where it would make money. She started the business three years ago after being made redundant.
Ms Hay met Mr King and heard the idea. The campaign was offered almost cost-free - everyone was paid in Hakanoa’s ginger syrup. “Dave said there is definitely going to be controversy around this.”
The campaign offered parents of ginger children that chance to trade their “spawn” for a six-pack of ginger beer. Angry emails, text messages and phone calls followed. At the Little Grocer, where the child-swap could take place, people abused the shopkeeper.
There was also a repeat texter who told Ms Hay he knew where she lived, that he was coming to her house. She visited police, asked them to call him but said she wanted no charges pressed.
Rebekah has learned the hard lesson that when a big ad agency is willing to do your ads pro bono, they have one thing on their mind: winning ad awards.