Spitfire TV ad pulled for being ‘offensive’ to Poles

An ad for Spitfire Ale starring comedy duo Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller has been refused permission to be broadcast after the body that clears spots for air slammed it for being offensive to Polish people.



The ads featured Armstrong and Miller playing the RAF characters seen in their BBC sketch show asking questions of a Polish General character in their characteristic street slang with clipped tones.


According to a report on Kentonline.co.uk, verified by Marketing Week with a source close to the campaign, in one scene Armstrong says: “Listen blud, is you like one of them geezers that’s like a Pole from Poland or Russia or something place like that?”

The character replies: “I am General Vladimir Zhigorski, Supreme Commander in Chief of free Polish forces, yes.” Armstrong’s character responds: “Only my nan’s patio needs doing and I thought we could do, like, a deal for cash?”

Broadcast clearance body ClearCast ruled the ad “likely to cause offence” to Polish people working in the UK.

It is thought the spot was one of five filmed, four of which were cleared. The ad in question could now be posted online, it is understood, as part of a summer campaign for the brand. Online-only ads, however, are still subject to Committee of Advertising Practice codes on offensive material.

In a statement on its site, ClearCast adds: “In circumstances such as these [when proposed ads are rejected] it is up to the advertiser to demonstrate that widespread offence would not be caused and Shepherd Neame have not to date come back on this point. Should they do so we will of course consider their arguments and work with them to try and come to a solution where their script can be approved.”

A spokesman for Spitfire says: “We were very surprised to hear this response to the new advertisement. The butt of the joke is quite clearly the comedy duo and their reliance on absurd caricatures.

”The Armstrong and Miller RAF pilot characters juxtapose old and new by using modern day street language but in an historical setting, and make a humorous play on the perceived attitudes of modern youth.”

The two-year partnership between the beer brand and the comedy duo was announced in March.

Latest from Marketing Week


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


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.


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.


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 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

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