No Sex Please–We’re All Black Fans


“You may have heard that I am asking New Zealanders, on behalf of BackingBlack, to do their duty [or not?] for the All Blacks and Abstain For The Game. …”  Sean Fitzpatrick BackingBlack Facebook site

We all know that abstinence makes the heart grow fonder, but was the reformed old hooker putting the boot in or just taking the mickey in the AB Abstinence Ad?

The Abstain for the All Blacks campaign produced by Saatchi & Saatchi for client Telecom on behalf of BackingBlack, the NZRU-endorsed official fan club website for the All Blacks, was due to start next week-but kicked off-more of a dribble really- in the last few days via KiwiLeaks.

Abstain urged AB supporters to lose the urge and abstain from sex during the World Cup as a sign of support for the team.

As a sponsor Telecom was certainly flexing its ABs, past and present. The devout Father Sean Fitzpatrick was in the former category. He didn’t come down in the last cold shower but he did come off the bench. * If Graham Henry did pull out of the abstinence campaign at the last moment he would have been ipso facto perfect for the job.

BackingBlack has been described as a ”tongue in cheek” campaign by one of many Telecom spokespeople Mark Watts who obviously knows what’s what. It was certainly cheeky having Fitzpatrick front the video sitting on what looks like a very dodgy pink dodgem.*

Over the centuries abstinence has been applied to the whole pack of fleshly sins, with a heavy emphasis on eschewing sex and alcohol by those striving to get in the pink.

Some legendary abstinence campaigns were very successful, unlike the present one. Abstain is a new angle on an old theme. Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, literally the  “Army-disbander”, is a rather more comic account of one woman’s mission to end The Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuaded the women of Greece to withhold sexual gratification from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace. Hostilities ended  in a scoreless nil all draw. No extra time was played.

A modern army disbander might have stopped the other silly Kiwi RWC army ads* from getting screen time and prevented the Abstain Campaign from getting off the ground. All that was needed was a bit of self-control and a spot of adstinence* on the part of the ad agency.

Of course abstinence has lots of famous supporters:
“My experience through life has convinced me that, while moderation and temperance in all things are commendable and beneficial, abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safeguard of morals and health.”  – Robert E. Lee

“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.” W.C. Fields

Kurt Angle: “Join me in Olympic Heroes for Abstinence. The best sex is no sex.”

 Dennis Wolfberg: “I didn’t practice abstinence, I perfected it.”

(The same can’t be said of Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol. When Governor of Alaska  Palin apparently insisted on abstinence-only sex education for her daughter, who despite this soon became shipshape and Bristol fashion and was duly delivered of a baby boy).

Voltaire probably said it best: “Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.”

Christian Finnegan’s lesson on Tantric Abstinence* may help if anyone reallly wants to pursue, even temporarily, a life of sobriety and abstinence rather than one of sorority and absinthe.

 Meanwhile, yesterday’s Telecom take on the campaign was that ”It is a tongue in cheek movement that shows our intense support for the All Blacks at the World Cup. It is all about humour, a bit of irreverence, about showing support for the All Blacks in a quirky way.”

Quirky certainly. But is what we’ve seen so far really funny? Or is it a lame joke of two halves featuring old and new media, more  puerile than viral?

The fans aren’t taking the abstinence campaign lying down. Some are incensed that at a time of national crisis-the looming Rugby WC, not the earthquakes, the snow, or global economic cooling- the campaign is taking life too lightly. Nothing Trivial in the pursuit of rugby supremacy:  it’s not a bloody game.

But old Rugby players know that the only way to have safe sex is to abstain – from drinking.  What is really unsafe is the black ring to be worn like a un-wedding ring by campaign followers. The same item looks suspiciously like that affixed to lambs to cause their tails to fall off. Really serious male abstainers should wear it elsewhere and make a real commitment. You can put a ring around that!

There were some novel other suggestions, including: “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, which shows how young Christian women have evolved since the organisation was set up.

Before the blackout announced earlier today the BackingBlack blackout was to have been launched nationwide this Sunday with simultaneous TV commercials. But buckets of cold water have been heaped on the whole ad campaign instead of having been conserved for the  abstinence advancement.

Backing Back: Touch, pause, disengage

“Full credit to the opposition. We listened to your views, and we have acted quickly to change our game plan….. “No excuses. We caused offence to some people, and for that we apologise.” Alan Gourdie Telecom’s retail boss 18 August

I don’t know about retail but in the last 24 hours since TV1 and TV3 gave sneaky previews there has been wholesale media mayhem. Fitzy has been red-carded and sent off before the game even started properly. Telecom is red faced and apologetic to the apoplectic.

But the issue is not about causing real offence-it was just that the whole thing seemed to have gone a little lame, without a zambuck in sight,  and that’s not funny.

20 years after his last show I wonder what Billy T James* would have thought about the limp humour?
Bloody Te Pits. Te he he.

Breaking News
After a  very close vote the French national rugby team has decided not to support the campaign either. Oh well, back to the drawing board Saatchi & Saatchi.

*Blinks  First (and last?) Fitzy video  Backing Black  Adstinence urged!  Silly RWC Army Ad—tantric-abstinence  Christian Finnegan  Vid  AC/DC Back In Black Cover      Billy T. James – Taxi Driver – The South African

 #Lyall Lukey 18 Aug 2011 My other (bit more serious) blog 


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