A New Zealand advertising company has been forced to apologise after its attempt at humour backfired with many finding a festive season message far from funny.

The billboard, in East Tamaki outside Auckland, featured the Vanity Fair cover of Caitlyn Jenner, photoshopped to include her wearing a Santa hat.

The message read: “I hope your sack is fuller than mine this Christmas.”

Rebecca Jones, mother of a nine-year-old transgender boy, told that the billboard was “absolutely disgusting”.

Transgender suicide rates are extremely high,” she said. “If they had put a racist board up, would they have got away with it? They shouldn’t be mocking a marginalised sector of society.”

Jesse Evenblij told the New Zealand Herald that the billboard was “seriously horrible”.

The company should be ashamed,” she said. “People just have no clue how Caitlyn has literally saved lives by making transgender ‘normal.’ Young people can look up to Caitlyn and realise they aren’t alone.”

After numerous complaints, the company replaced the sign with a single word: CENSORED.

Hardly contrite.

That response was met with further criticism and Cranium Signage owner Phillip Garratt issued an apology.

I, as the owner, have no feelings of discrimination to the gay or transgender community and if one of my family was I would love them just the same,” he wrote on Facebook.

Cait is more than welcome to stay at my house with my family any time. I will have a wine or a beer with her quite happily and it would be an honour.”

Garratt told that there was no malice and that it was “basically one of those ‘when humour goes wrong’ situations.”

The company also made a $1000 donation to Rainbow Youth, an organisation that supports LGBT youth.

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