Oravida's promo photo angers PM

John Key

John Key

Prime Minister John Key plans to again tell exporter Oravida to stop using his picture to plug its products, saying it amounts to "false advertising".

Fairfax Media today revealed Oravida's Shanghai arm had used Key's picture on its stand at the huge China Fisheries and Seafood expo in Quindao this week, after he had earlier asked it not to use pictures of him in promotions.

"It implies that I'm promoting a product when I'm not," Key said.

"I promote New Zealand and I believe in New Zealand products and I've got no reason to question that product. But I don't promote products in my capacity as Prime Minister or any other capacity because it would be wrong for me to do so."

The display showed Key and some of its products and according to a translation, it refers to the "dish selected by New Zealand Prime Minister on his visit to China". 

It promotes the company's crab and shrimp from the deep sea, and says "every meal is a feast, enjoy the delicious food".

Asked how he personally felt about that, Key today said: "I just don't want companies to use my image because it's false advertising." 

When a picture of him was used, a letter was sent asking them not to.

"My understanding is the letter that went to Oravida was stock-standard. Given they've used it again, we're going to write back to them again," he said. 

"It's not an easy situation for us to resolve short of taking much more aggressive steps, which we try not to do."

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Key said his office was handling it, and he knew Oravida wasn't the only company that attempted to use his image. 

"There's lots of companies that do. We take those issues seriously because the Cabinet Manual obviously tells us to take them very seriously and we follow that."

Former cabinet minister Judith Collins' husband, David Wong-Tung, is a director of Oravida in New Zealand.

Key was forced to discipline Collins for not disclosing sooner a meal with Oravida executives and a Chinese border control official during a visit to China - one of several meetings with company representatives that could create the perception of a conflict of interest.

The company later used her picture as a product endorsement without her consent.

Collins survived the Oravida controversy earlier this year, but was forced to resign as a minister during the election campaign after an email emerged suggesting she was part of a campaign to undermine the head of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley, while she was police minister. 

Collins has denied that and vowed to clear her name.

Wong-Tung yesterday said he had no knowledge of the Key photo.

"Have you searched the web? You will see that his picture adorns a lot of websites holding up products," he said.

He said he was a director of Oravida in New Zealand but not of Oravida (Shanghai).

 - Stuff.co.nz

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