An advert for Strongbow has been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency for suggesting that alcohol is more important than relationships.
Heineken, which owns Strongbow, posted the ad on its YouTube channel. It was based around the idea of a spoof awards ceremony in which the winner, Carl, gave a speech after accepting an award called “best Strongbow as my other half”.
A message read out on Carl's behalf said: "I dedicate this award to my family, 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."
But the ad drew fire from organisations such as The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC) and Alcohol Concern for showing alcohol as indispensable.
Heineken rejected the complaints. It said that the ad was a parody of awards ceremonies, and that it could not be reasonably inferred from watching it that alcohol consumption should take priority in life or be indispensable.
Though there were no further complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) agreed that the ad implied that Strongbow was as important to Carl as a significant romantic relationship with another person.
The ASA concluded that the ad breached standards and welcomed Heineken's confirmation that it had already been removed.
"Not only is it appalling that a company such as Heineken UK, with a marketing budget of millions, is failing to comply with the advertising codes, but it's left to young people to spot these adverts and highlight these failings,” Tom Smith, Alcohol Concern's head of policy, said.
"These big companies clearly can't be trusted, so to better protect children and tackle patterns of alcohol harm we need urgent reform of the alcohol advertising regime."
MP Fiona Bruce, chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, said there was a trend for increasingly young people becoming aware of the impact of drinking too much. “Many are deciding not to drink at all in their teenage years. We know that the later you start drinking, the fewer problems are likely to occur. We need to give them as much support as possible,” Ms Bruce said.
Additional reporting by the Press Association
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