The ad, which ran on Strongbow’s YouTube channel, showed a spoof awards ceremony with a winning category called “Best Strongbow as my other half”.
The “winner”, “Carl Guyenette”, was featured via a Facebook picture showing Carl holding a can of Strongbow in front of his face. The “presenter” said Carl couldn’t make it to the ceremony and read out a message on his behalf.
It said: “I dedicate this award to my fam, to all the lovely creatures out there, and to my other half. I love you. I’ve loved you since the first day I met ya. And I always will do. My dear Strongbow.”
The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council, supported by Alcohol Concern, claimed the ad portrayed alcohol as indispensable and as taking priority in life.
Strongbow’s owner Heineken claimed the reference to Strongbow as Carl’s other half was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and that he was being self-deprecating.
They said nothing in the ad suggested Carl was a regular drinker, that alcohol was a priority in his life or that he used alcohol to relieve boredom or other problems.
However, the ASA disagreed and upheld the complaint.
While recognising that the ad was intended to be humorous, the body noted that Strongbow was referred to throughout the ad as Carl’s “other half”, implying that Strongbow was as important to Carl as a significant relationship with another person.
As a result, the ASA concluded that the ad breached the CAP Code and welcomed Heineken’s confirmation that it had already been removed.
The ad must not appear again in its current form and the ASA has told Heineken not to imply in future ads that alcohol might be indispensable or take priority in life.
- Find out more about above-the-line advertising at this year’s Festival of Marketing, where you can listen to speakers on the multichannel stage. For more information go to www.festivalofmarketing.com.