Seven complaints over a billboard featuring Britney Spears climbing out of a car with her private parts covered by large blue knickers has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The billboard for Sky TV carried the headline: Something Everyone Wants To See.
One of the complainants, A. Harper, said the billboard was offensive with "a huge picture of Britney Spears with her legs spread eagled, the camera angle looking up her skirt, and a drawing of underwear covering her private parts."
The complainant said the picture was crude and represented women as sex objects. The chairman of the authority ruled the complaints fell under the principle that advertisements should not use sex appeal in a manner exploitative and degrading to sell products.
Lawyers for Sky and its advertising agency DDB New Zealand said it appeared the seven complainants were unaware Spears had been pictured in Hollywood last year getting out of a car wearing a miniskirt and no knickers.
The picture caused frenzy and "there is little doubt Ms Spears did all this deliberately - she is a person who does outlandish things for publicity.
The object of the billboard, the lawyers said, was to use the picture to "say people wouldn't want to see Britney's bits' (hence the knickers cover-up) but there was something they would want to see on Sky."
The lawyers said the billboard was not outside the rules governing such advertising.
"There will always be advertisements which offend some people and it is accepted that each of the seven complainants has been offended.
"However, there will be many people in Auckland who have seen the billboard and have known the background and are not offended."
The majority of the board said the use of large cartoon-type knickers to "censor" the actual photo used imagery with "sexual overtones in a manner which exploited and degraded women