The Virgin boss staged the stunt to wind up Australian cricket fans as the first Ashes test began. In true Branson barn-storming style, the entrepreneur beamed his face onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with the St George’s cross and the slogan "Good luck Ricky – you’ll need it. Dicky x".
Aussies everywhere were outraged by the slight and have been posting comments and complaints on cricket message boards. One fan wrote, "I think Richard Branson should be arrested for this," while another demanded that the Australian supporters return the favour by projecting their image onto Tower Bridge. Perhaps ex-Dragon Richard Farleigh might stump up the cash for a retaliation..
In the midst of the furore, Branson issued half-hearted apology on his Twitter page. Well, apology might be stretching it. The entrepreneur said: "I’m sorry if I’ve ruffled a few Aussie feathers with my message… maybe the truth hurt! C’mon England."
Branson organised the stunt to kick off Virgin Media’s Fifty50 campaign. The entrepreneur plans to donate £1,000 to charity for every England batsman who scores a half-century during the series. It’s early days but the charity pot is already up to £3,000, with Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior all hitting half centuries.
Our resident Australian, online editor Catherine Woods, is unimpressed. But the British Real Business faction are pretty entertained. Sorry, Woodsy!