Carling’s latest television ad, launched last week during the England versus Sweden World Cup match, is being investigated by the Independent Television Commission (ITC), after a number of viewers complained that it was offensive.
The campaign, which was created by Leith London, with media buying by BBJ, features a frustrated woman whose boyfriend refuses to clean their flat. When she knocks over a can of Carling, he licks it up. So she pours a trail of Carling around the flat, including inside the toilet, and he licks it all clean. There are two variant endings to the ad: in one, she strips to her underwear and then pours beer on herself, while in the other, she finds the can is empty. The former ends with the tagline “rewarding”, and the latter with the tagline “frustrating”.
An ITC spokeswoman confirms that 19 complaints had been received by the June 9, a week after the ad’s first airing. Some viewers were upset by the toilet-licking sequence and others by the association of alcohol and sex, but most also complained that the ads had been booked into a programme that was likely to attract a significant number of children.
The ITC code of conduct states that alcohol ads should not be booked around programming targeting children, but it is unclear whether that applies in this case, since the World Cup is assumed to be for a general audience.