BRISBANE, Australia – An Australian burger franchise next door to a homeless shelter for rehabilitating drug users has sparked controversy by distributing pens resembling blood-filled syringes, The Courier-Mail reported Friday.
The Burger Urge store in Brisbane distributed 20,000 pens to local mailboxes in a marketing stunt to publicize its new menu, which includes such items as "Lamb Phetamine," "Beef Injection" and "The Blue Vein."
Police were forced to visit the store after local social service workers complained about the pens, with one officer saying there were "a number of concerns" regarding the promotion.
Rod Kelly, general manager of the homeless shelter, described the campaign as being "without any thought of moral and community responsibility."
"I'm an ex-intravenous drug user and, in the early days when I was getting clean, if I saw that in my letterbox it would have made me want to start using again," he said.
"Imagine going to your letterbox ... to find a syringe filled with what looks like blood. Parents will be asking their children to check the mailbox only to find a pen that looks identical to a hypodermic syringe."
Burger Urge co-owner Sean Carthew said he was "comfortable" with his company's promotion.
"It doesn't say 'drug addiction' on the pen, it says 'taste addiction,'" he said. "I am comfortable with it. Whether that's a good or bad thing, I don't know."