Latest News

‘Overwhelming’ billboard campaign

Thursday, 19 January 2017
By Print21

This image will run as a full page ad in newspapers around the country

A crowd-funding campaign to reinstate an Australia Day billboard featuring two Muslim girls that was removed after a number of threats has raised more than $150,000.

ASX-listed outdoor advertiser QMS pulled the ad from one of its digital billboards next to an outer Melbourne freeway after the image was shared online and sparked protests and threats to both the company and the girls, with some describing it as ‘un-Australian.”

The Australia Day billboard (Facebook)

The pro-bono ad, promoting a Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) sponsored Victorian government Australia Day event, showed the two young Muslim girls in hijabs.

“While the ads have been removed, anyone who considers this a victory needs a refresher on the true meaning of Australia Day,” said Victorian Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott.

Dee Madigan, creative director of ad agency Campaign Edge, on Wednesday launched a GoFundMe campaign to have the billboard reinstated, starting off with a goal of $20,000.

'This is not ok': Dee Madigan, creative director, Campaign Edge

By 9pm on Thursday, the online campaign had raised more than $150,000.

“Wow, what an amazing campaign!” Madigan wrote in an update on the GoFundMe page. “We are overwhelmed with the support and have increased our target so that there can be multiple billboards across the country.

“We are now setting our sights on full page ads around Australia on Australia Day and on many, many billboards over the next week. Thanks again for your support, we will let you know billboard locations soon.

“The same groups who complain ‘Muslims don’t assimilate’, complained about the photo OF AUSTRALIAN MUSLIMS CELEBRATING AUSTRALIA DAY. And due to this pressure the billboard was removed. If you or your business thinks this is not ok, please help us fund a billboard and print campaign featuring these two girls promoting Australia Day.

“The more money we raise, the more places we can run the ad. And if you’re a company or organisation willing to donate $1500 or more, your logo will appear on the ad to show your support for an inclusive Australia.”

Any left-over money will be donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

“Pauline Hanson has given people the permission to be racist, so if they are taking the gloves off, I will too,” Madigan told AdNews. “Two girls celebrating Australia Day should have never been political in the first place. It should have never been removed.”

QMS chief operating officer Malcolm Pearce told Print21 the company would be making no comment.








6 Responses to “‘Overwhelming’ billboard campaign”

  1. January 20, 2017 at 1:26 pm,

    Kevin Holt

    Sorry – don’t agree at all. I see no problems with these great looking Australian Muslim girls on the billboard OR anywhere else for that matter but if you are trying to promote a united Australia with a great history of multicultural integration then why O why are there ONLY these girls. These people battle as it is for acceptance in the community so whoever thought this was a good idea has not helped. No surprises at the objections at all. Take a look at the fantastic Australian Lamb Ad to see how a multicultural Australia really looks.

  2. January 20, 2017 at 1:57 pm,

    Mark Stegman

    Kevin, it doesn’t make it clear in the article but the original billboard ad was electronic and the girls were only one of several subjects that were part of a changing background. I assume that the expanded campaign will be the same and not purely focus on the two girls. So it has more in common with the Australian lamb commercial than it might at first seem which, I agree, is an excellent piece.

  3. January 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm,


    Was this whole thing staged?
    In isolation, the right side, could be any sign in Saudi Arabia. I did not even notice the Australia part of it until I took a second look and then the message I got was certainly not: “Australians celebrating Australia day”.

    It is not until you see the separate picture of the girls, that you can perceive them as anything more than Islamic symbols. In that symbolic context, the message was more like “Australia day being hijacked by Islam” than the supposed “happy little (multicultural) Vegemites”.

    I can’t help thinking that the sign was intentionally designed to get the exact reaction that it did.

  4. January 20, 2017 at 5:05 pm,

    Kevin Holt

    Maybe you have hit the nail on the head Mark, I was not aware of the other images that scrolled though on the billboard that you describe, only the one image that the news media chose to show on mainstream news reports. News broadcasters looking for sensational headlines – there’s a surprise!! Depending on the timing of that “scrolling” of images, traffic driving along a freeway would also only see one image in the few seconds they pass by. This I suggest is what has caused the problem so does the blame sit with the designers that did not think of the outcome using this new variable image digital media on a busy road OR the news media quick to jump on an opportunity to get a headline?

  5. January 23, 2017 at 1:23 pm,

    Andy McCourt

    Mark – thanks for a great piece of clarification, I had no idea. Goes to show the superiority of static, printed outdoor signage eh? Same message, same hits day in day out. Just one still of that great Aussie Lamb ad would do it I reckon?

  6. January 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm,

    Andy McCourt

    PS. I’m in love with Dee Madigan!

Comment on this article

To receive notification of comments made to this article, you can also provide your email address below.