Australian beer advert banned for mocking redheads

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 20 March 2018 14:15 GMT
Banned advert for Rusty Yak beer from Yak Ales brewery

An advert for an Australian beer company has caused a furore online after viewers accused it of discriminating against redheads.

Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) launched the “Unexpected Ginger” campaign in February to mark the release of their new Rusty Yak Ginger Ale, however, the ad was poorly received by consumers and has since been banned by advertising watchdogs.

In the ad, a narrator describes discovering the “surprising” gene for red hair “floating around in our beer, just like it’s been floating around in human DNA” and goes on to call for consumers to “stop the spread of the gene” by searching its six-pack bottles for ones marked with special “ginger gene” labels.

The idea was that those who found the limited edition bottles would be rewarded with a $500 prize.

However, what CUB had intended to be a “lighthearted” way to bring the Rusty Yak brand to life quickly turned sour, as the Advertising Standards Bureau in Australia was soon inundated with complaints, labelling the ad as offensive for using the term “ginger gene” in a pejorative way, Smart Company reports.

Parents issued complaints arguing that presenting ginger-haired people in such a way could provoke bullying of red-haired children at schools, with one labelling it “disturbing”.

Responding to the complaints, CUB explained that the redhead trait is not classified as definitive race and clarified that the campaign was not at all intended to be discriminatory.

“The advertisements simply seek to associate the launch of the Rusty Yak Ginger Ale product with red heads in our community in an affectionate, light-hearted and humorous way by linking the hair colour with the ‘crisp and zingy Rusty Yak gingery flavour’ as stated in the advertisements,” they said in the statement.

However, the advertising bureau refuted their claims, describing CUB’s campaign as “likely to incite ridicule of people with red hair”.

“DNA can be considered to be related to ancestry and descent and therefore considered that in this context the reference to people with red hair falls within the definition of race and can be considered under Section 2.1 of the Code,” the Ad Standards Community Panel said in its decision.

The ad has since been pulled.

The Independent has contacted CUB for comment.

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