DIARY: Lack of the Christmas spirit as Smirnoff gets the Taiwanese pissed

There's nothing like sensitive advertising to help a big company to win the hearts of a nation. Just ask the good folks at J. Walter Thompson, who managed to offend the whole of Taiwan with an ad for Smirnoff. No mean feat.

The ad appeared in tube stations in London, reading: "Warning. This gift will break down on Christmas morning. Replacement parts available from service center Box No. 260, Taiwan. Allow 365 working days for delivery."

A cheeky extension to a vaguely amusing campaign, one might think. Not to the Taiwanese government, which has not only demanded an apology from Diageo, the maker of Smirnoff, but has demanded the company's advertising be banned for a year.

Needless to say, this prompted Diageo to act. First, it removed all the ads over a period of seven days. Second, it took out apologetic ads in the local press. And third, it promised never to do it again.

With their fingers crossed in the hope the Taiwanese government will calm down, JWT and Diageo are looking to put the incident behind them and concentrate on the launch of the next ad in the campaign. This one is apparently entitled: "The Koreans? They're all just a bunch of dog eaters if you ask me."