Bass’ reputation as a responsible brewer was under fire this week after its most recent alcopop ads, featuring a man with a surfer superimposed on his hair, was condemned for appealing to children.
The brewer has repeatedly stressed that it does not deliberately target children in the packaging or advertising of its alcopop brand Hooper’s Hooch, the market leader.
But in a damning adjudication in this month’s Advertising Standards Authority report, Bass was ordered not to use the campaign again and told to seek copy advice for future ads.
The ruling could mean the end of Hooch man, the character created by Bass ad agency EURO RSCG Wnek Gosper, who was supposed to convey “sophisticated” and “ironic” adult humour.
The poster campaign through EURO RSCG ran in June and advertised the special edition alcopop Hooper’s Hoola. It featured a beach scene and a man wearing a floral top and a wig with a surfer superimposed on the quiff in his hair. The ASA ruled the ad irresponsibly linked drinking with water sports (breaking the ad industry’s codes), and that the beach, surfing imagery and “unsophisticated humour” of the Hooch character would appeal to children.
Bass was forced to axe its original lemon cartoon character for Hooch, used in press and poster advertising. It replaced it with a more serious fruit design. This has also been replaced with an authentic fruit image.
A Bass spokeswoman says the company is “dismayed” at the ASA’s decision and claims the poster was “clearly directed at 18- to 35-year-olds”.
“Bass Brewers believes that the ASA examined the ad at a time when there was a mistaken belief that so-called alcopops were actually encouraging underage drinking,” she adds.