Budweiser axes British ad after US group calls it racist

A Budweiser advertising campaign for the UK has been axed after creating uproar in the US, where it was accused of racism after depicting American Indians as drunks.

The ad, sanctioned by brewer Anheuser-Busch, shows an American Indian truck driver in search of a beer.

London agency BMP DDB’s creation ran on TV and in the cinema in the UK but was not scheduled to run in the US.

But reports in the US press led to an outcry from American Indian civil rights groups, which say it is insensitive to the alcohol problems of American Indians. Alcoholism is estimated to be five times more prevalent among American Indians than the general US population.

Both the Morning Star Institutute of American Indian rights advocacy group in Washington and the Native American Resource Center in North Carolina told the Wall Street Journal that they viewed the ad as perpetuating racial stereotypes.

Anheuser-Busch defended the ad, saying UK consumer research showed the driver is viewed as independent, individualistic and an authentic American.

“There is nothing wrong with the appearance of a Native American in a beer ad acting responsibly,” says Stephen Burrows, president and chief operating officer of Anheuser-Busch.

But Anheuser-Busch says it regrets any offence and intends to replace the American Indian ad.

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