The ad depicts King Kamehameha holding a champagne glass
HONOLULU (KHNL) - A controversy is brewing over the way a cruise line used the image of the man who united the Hawaiian islands. The company recently pulled an advertisement showing King Kamehameha holding a glass of champagne.
Native Hawaiian groups are considering a lawsuit against Celebrity Cruise Lines saying an apology is not enough. They remain outraged over the controversial ad.
The statue, placed in 1883, is quite a tourist attraction. If you look closely you see the king's hand is outstretched. And native Hawaiians are furious about the ad illustrating the king making a toast.
Tourists take photos and marvel at the statue, not aware of the controversy surrounding it.
"My reaction was I was appalled and so hurt that it brought tears to my eyes to think to think that anybody would have the audacity to do that! What were they thinking?" says Wayne Panoke.
Representatives of more than a dozen native Hawaiian groups speak out against the ad.
"This was never intended to be used to market and sell a cruise ship" says Vicky Holt Takamine.
Celebrity Cruise Lines apologized and pulled the ad. But native Hawaiian groups are talking to attorneys.
"We are gonna have to sit down and decide how to fine them for their inappropriate behavior because when it hits their pocket book then they will remember a lot clearer the next time they want to do an ad in Hawaii" says Panoke.
Many say the mistake could have been prevented.
"Obviously the ad agency and company have no cultural consultant to advise them of how inappropriate and insensitive it is to portray the image of our statute of Kamehameha toasting with a champagne glass for their latest campaign ad" says Panoke.
Some say it would be like an ad depicting our founding our fathers drinking beer:
"Would you put that icon on your magazine and in your article? Abe Lincoln sitting there on his throne with a glass of Heineken or whatever? Anything! Is that appropriate? I don t think it's appropriate" says Takamine.
Hawaii tourism officials are also upset about the ad.
"It belittles the work of native Hawaiians, it just belittles our entire culture. It says, come here and have a drink with the Hawaiians. And that's not what we are all about" says Takamine.
The advertisement appeared in two magazines targeted to the travel industry. The cruise line apologized again on Monday and said it will hold cultural sensitivity training for it's marketing department.