Just when you thought that all channels of advertising had been utilised to their fullest, Telstra BigPond has come up with a brilliant, if not culturally insensitive, idea.

The telco has come under fire for placing advertising billboards on its SecondLife island – right in front of a virtual Uluru.

The company has removed the billboards that contained BigPond logos, after a blog from online communities expert Laurel Papworth appeared and had numerous hits. She claimed the billboards, regardless of their being in a virtual space, were hugely insensitive to indigenous Australians.

“It might only be a virtual world, it might just be SecondLife – but I believe we take our values with us. In-and-out of real world, virtual world, doesnt matter, we reveal who we are at all times,” Papworth says in the blog.

BigPond is one of SecondLife’s most popular brand presences – it uses 16 virtual islands to advertise its products.

Other Australian landmarks that feature on the islands include the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It also features Telstra’s ‘Pondi Beach’.

Despite recent statistics showing Australian SecondLife users are down from around16,000 toward the end of last year, BigPond recently opened a customer service kiosk in the virtual world that is staffed on weekdays from 11am to 10pm.

BigPond spokesman Peter Habib responded to Papworths blog, and thanking her for bringing up the subject.

“You are very correct in stating BigPond takes the image of Uluru in SecondLife very seriously. This is why we do not allow avatars to climb or fly over it,” says Habib.

But if you check out the link to the YouTube video that Papworth posted, her avatar takes a pretty comprehensive glide around it.