Premier Beehive's 'Wake up and smell the bacon' ad pulled amidst backlash

Bacon. Photo credit: Getty

An ad for bacon has been taken down after it appeared to make fun of a romantic relationship with an illegally large age gap.

The ad for Premier Beehive Bacon is part of the company's "Wake up and smell the bacon" campaign, which the agency said was designed to be ironic - similar to the Tui 'yeah right' billboards.

"Bacon doesn't try to be anything it isn't, it's not politically correct, but it is irresistibly honest," Beehive managing director Dene McKay said when the campaign launched.

"We wanted to take this thought of being irresistibly honest and get it across in a way that would get Kiwis talking."

The ad says: "I'm 15. He's 27. My parents love him. Wake up and smell the bacon".

The ad.
The ad. Photo credit: Beehive Premier Bacon

In New Zealand the legal age of consent is 16-years-old.

Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmonds called the ad "odd" and said the relationship portrayed in the ad was clearly wrong and quite sinister.

"I guess for arguments sake you could say well its raising an issue, but it's all a bit obtuse, sort of weird," she told Newshub.

"It doesn't seem a great way to sell bacon, although maybe it is - look at us, we're talking about it."

HELP support for sexual abuse survivors executive director Kathryn McPhillips said such a relationship was not appropriate for use in advertising.

"It really isn't an appropriate thing to make fun of in that way, to sell bacon. It's a very serious matter," she told Newshub.

"As a society we've decided that young people who are 15 years old don't have the capacity to consent to sexual relationships - 27-year-old young men in our current era are generally fairly focused on sexual relationships.

"So what you have represented there is a situation which has those legal consequences or ramifications.

"It's referring to something that we would see as harmful because very often when it's 27 to 15 or that kind of age gap, there's coercion involved."

The billboard had been near the motorway in downtown Auckland, but the advertising firm made the decision to pull it down on Wednesday night, RNZ reports.

Other billboards made for the campaign will stay up.

Contagion chief executive Dean Taylor told RNZ they didn't mean to cause offence with the billboard.

"We thought that might be funny - we've obviously missed the mark - so we're pulling it down," he said.

When contacted by Newshub on Wednesday the Advertising Standards Authority confirmed they had received two complaints about the ad.