New Zealand vodka brand 42 Below is courting controversy with its latest viral advertising campaign, which pokes less-than-gentle fun at the British and British culture. It features a Monty Python-style montage of famous British activities and faces.
The voiceover for the video includes comments about Britain “inventing cricket for the Aussies, rugby for the Kiwis, football for the Brazilians and Robbie Williams for the gays.” Other targets include Prince Charles and his infamous “Tampax” intercepted phone call with Camilla, Prince Philip and his propensity for racist remarks and the security services and their vulnerability to Russian infiltration.
All creative for 42 Below is by company founder Geoff Ross, a former director of Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand.
A previous 42 Below viral for the US market, targeting gay consumers, triggered threats of a boycott. The latest execution will almost certainly trigger UK tabloid outrage and consumer complaints, but it will also again highlight the fact that viral advertising is almost completely unregulated.
The Advertising Standards Authority’s remit only covers virals if they have been actively sent out by the brand owner or its agents.