UPDATE: A Go Fund Me campaign to have the billboard reinstated has raised more than $4,000 in the first hour.
Australian outdoor media company QMS has been forced to remove an ad following threats.
The Australia Day event ad, hosted on a QMS billboard, promotes an Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) sponsored government event and featured two smiling girls in hijabs.
It is part of a Victorian Government marketing campaign to promote 2017 Australia Day celebrations, but has sparked a backlash on social media, with some questioning the creative. “Who the f*ck wants to see a hijab on Australia Day?," one person commented.
There are reports of threatening behaviour, including towards the pair featured in the advert, forcing QMS to pull the advert.
In a statement to AdNews, Minister for Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott says the digital advertising campaign uses a number of images of Victorians from various cultural backgrounds – all of whom are proud Australians.
“External partner QMS hosted the campaign on a pro bono basis and independently chose to remove it due to a number of threats," he says.
“While the ads have since been removed, anyone who considers this a victory needs a refresher on the true meaning of Australia Day.
“It is about bringing people together and celebrating the diversity which makes this state and this country great. It’s very disappointing to see a small minority attacking proud Australians for their love of their country.”
All the photos used in the campaign were taken at last year's Australia Day celebrations and the billboard in question was located in Cranbourne at the interchange between Peninsula Link and Connect East.
QMS says it is unable to comment.
The removal of the billboard has garnered a mixed reaction on social media.
RACV says it is proud to be the major supporter of the Victorian Government's popular Australia Day Festival, "which celebrates everything that makes our country great".
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