Portman and ASA censure Bayer over Alka Seltzer washroom ads

Healthcare and chemicals group Bayer has clashed with alcohol industry watchdog the Portman Group over “irresponsible” advertising for Bayer’s Alka XS Go pain relief tablets.

The group said a washroom ad, created by Abbott Mead Vickers. BBDO, for the tablets encouraged excessive drinking and an unhealthy lifestyle. The complaint was also upheld this week by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

The ad, part of a large-scale TV, radio and poster campaign, showed a photo of a muscular man lifting a dumbbell with the word “sad” printed across the photograph. The strapline, which appeared next to a picture of the Alka XS Go box, read: “Go out, have a laugh, be alright”.

The ad formed part of a &£1.4m campaign, launched in December, to promote the tablets, which contain caffeine and painkillers. Bayer is trying to fight back against the growing demand for energy drinks such as Berocca, which are encroaching on its market.

The ASA rejected arguments from Bayer that the ad was ironic and made comments about lifestyles which did not appeal to the target market.

Bayer also tried to argue that its research showed that only a small percentage of people believe the ad refers to alcohol consumption, thinking it is instead about living a relaxed lifestyle.

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here