‘Violent’ Baileys Christmas ad avoids ban

An ad for Bailey’s that showed a woman slapping a man has escaped censure despite complaints using ”violent and aggressive behaviour” to promote alcohol is irresponsible. 

Video: Bailey’s Nutcracker themed ad escaped a ban.


Diageo, which owns Baileys, said the ads in question aimed to show the ultimate girls’ night out in a “modern, fantastical way” through a retelling of a classic scene from the Christmas ballet the Nutcracker. The two spots featured an arrangement of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker ballet and reimagined the point where Clara saves the Nutcracker from the Mouse King and his army of soldiers.

The ad opens with three women arriving at a party and receiving a glass of Baileys before one catches the eye of a man and they dance. Another male character attempts to join the dance and steal the female lead away but she struggles free.

The ad ends with a woman appearing to strike a man across the face before rejoining her friends and the strapline “Spend time with the girls this Christmas” appearing. Complainants claimed that this scene was in breach of the advertising code by linking alcohol with violent behaviour and that the ad should be banned.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority said in its ruling that it understood the ads were intended as a retelling of a famous scene from the ballet that included music from the production throughout. It considered most people would be “familiar” with the basic story and therefore understand that the ads reflected the story.

The watchdog added that from the outset the ads were clearly “fantastical” and that the movements later in the ad were identifiable as “choreography dance”. It therefore concluded the ads were not in breach of the advertising code.

Elsewhere, the ASA also cleared a Volkswagen ad this week (see video below) after complaints that it portrayed “irresponsible” behaviour by using scenes where dogs put their head out of car windows and chased after a car.

In its defence, Volkswagen said it was their “priority” that all dogs were safe and well looked after, with all the dogs wearing harnesses in the cars. Vets and a professional dog handler were on set to ensure the dogs were “happy, safe and well”. The firm added that the scene with a dog chasing a car was filmed on a gravel track that was closed to other cars, with no other vehicles or people shown.

The ASA did not uphold the complaint about the dogs travelling in cars, saying that the Highway Code and advice from the RSPCA were followed and that the tone of the ad was “light-hearted” and unlikely to encourage dog owners to copy it.

It added that while some viewers might find shots of a dog running after a car upsetting, the majority of viewers would not interpret the scenes as a depiction of abandonment or ill-treatment and were unlikely to cause distress. 

Video: Volkswagen’s woofwagon dog advert.


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