Thanks to Australian betting operator Sportsbet, the first impression hundreds of thousands of tourists will have of Melbourne is one of a cartoon wallaby which appears to be sodomizing a lion. And if you think this is a strange thing to read, imagine writing it.

Bizarre Visual

The huge advertisement which covers an area of 170 meters by 90 meters has been painted in a field just off of the Tullamarine Airport and is designed to be visible to passengers flying in and out of the airport and features the slogan “Rooting for the Wallabies” next to an image of the Melbourne Wallabies’ mascot taking up the rear of the British and Irish Lions’ mascot.

The idea is obviously to spark interest and drum up business for the online operator ahead of the approaching rugby union series between the two teams, which features three games to be played in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Haydn Lane, spokesman for Sportsbet, told Channel Nine that more than one million air passengers are expected to be exposed to the advertisement over the next month, so the well-placed image will certainly receive high exposure.

“What better way to get behind the Wallabies than to create a massive wallaby getting behind a lion?” he stated.

Ad Called “Crass”

However, the ad has sparked controversy as politicians are less than pleased about the impression it will leave on inbound tourists and certainly on children flying into the city. Planning Minister Matthew Guy went so far as to demand that the image had better be “ploughed by the end of the day.”

“It is crass. It is not the kind of welcome to Melbourne that I expect,” he explained to 3AW radio, adding that no permission had been sought for placing such an advert on Parks Victoria land. “To welcome international visitors to Melbourne with that image is not good enough.”

Backtracking on their controversial image, Sportsbet tried to claim that the advertisement simply shows the two characters “cuddling”. But if you believe that was the aim of the depiction, then you’ll believe anything.

And with politicians currently coming down hard on betting promotions as it is (no pun intended) it seems somewhat irresponsible of Sportsbet to pull such a stunt, especially since exposing children to sports betting promotion is what sparked the recent advertising debate. So why Sportsbet thought to throw a little cartoon sodomy into the mix is anyone’s bet.