ASA Adjudication on Wells & Youngs Brewing Company Ltd
Wells & Youngs Brewing Company Ltd
3 October 2012
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated and all were Not upheld.
A TV ad for Estrella beer told the story of a young male traveller meeting two young women and the three of them exploring a Spanish island. The ad opened with the man disembarking a ferry. This was followed by a close-up of the profile of one of the women and a bottle of Estrella beer on a table. The man then approached the two women who were sitting outside a bar drinking Estrella and he showed them a map of the island. The following scenes featured the three characters driving around the island, swimming, sunbathing, on a boat and at a beach party together. In one scene, the male traveller was shown carrying two bottles of Estrella on the beach. In another scene, the main character and the dark-haired woman were seen trying hats on in the market and the woman kissed the man briefly on the lips. In another scene, bottles of Estrella were distributed to a group of friends at a lunch gathering. A further scene showed the male character at a beach party being greeted affectionately by a male party-goer who was holding a bottle of Estrella. The ad ended with the male character being dropped off at the ferry terminal by the two women. He kissed his finger and planted this affectionately on the dark-haired woman's lips. He walked up the gang plank and took a swig from his bottle of Estrella beer. As he lowered the bottle the story began again.
A soundtrack which played throughout the ad included the lyrics "Tonight, I want to be with you".
Alcohol Concern challenged whether the ad breached the Code, because they considered it:
1. linked alcohol with sexual activity, sexual success or seduction;
2. implied that alcohol contributed to the male character's popularity; and
3. implied that the success of the holiday depended on the presence of alcohol.
1.–3. Wells & Youngs Brewing Company Ltd (Wells & Youngs) explained that the ad was first broadcast on 7 May 2012 and this complaint, in July, was the only complaint that had been received about it. They said they had taken great care to ensure that the ad had been checked and approved through all of the right channels before it was aired, including Clearcast. The ad depicted an entire summer on the island of Formentera and therefore the snapshots shown throughout the ad were events separated from one another in time and space. This was evident from the fact that the main male character was seen in different locations, with different friends and wearing different clothes. The story was purposefully told to ensure that the beer was not associated directly with activities that would be unwise or unsafe.
Clearcast believed the ad did not breach the Code. They explained they had worked closely with the agency to ensure that the ad was acceptable to broadcast. They had viewed many edits of the ad and had suggested that various scenes be removed so as to make the ad acceptable for broadcast.
1. Clearcast maintained there was no sexual activity in the ad, nor any sexual success or seduction. The behaviour of the three main characters was that of friends who had met on holiday. There was nothing explicitly pointing towards sexual behaviour. The ad featured two kisses between the male character and one of the female characters, neither of which were sexual. Clearcast felt these were the sort of kisses exchanged between friends rather than sexual partners. When approving the ad, they had been mindful that the Code allowed ads to link alcohol with mild flirtation or romance and they believed the content of the ad fell within these parameters.
2. Clearcast said it was evident from the ad that the male character was an independent traveller, who was likely to be outgoing in order for him to make friends while on a backpacking holiday in Spain and who did not need to rely on alcohol to make friends. They understood the relevant Code rule was intended to prevent any suggestion that a person became more attractive or a better person, or that their self-assurance could be improved through drinking alcohol. They felt it was obvious from the outset that the male character possessed all of these qualities in abundance before any alcohol was consumed and that these qualities had nothing to do with alcohol.
3. Clearcast felt the heart of the ad showed people having fun on holiday. Given the advertiser, alcohol was featured but in a realistic, incidental and minimal way. There was nothing in the ad which suggested that alcohol was the cause of the fun, but rather it was shown as being incidental to the fun. The ad featured typical holiday activities such as spending time at the beach, visiting local markets and restaurants and dancing at beach bars. Although the party scenes and scenes showing social interaction were lively, they were dealt with in a responsible way and did not feature behaviour which was adolescent or childish.
1. Not Upheld
The ASA noted that only two scenes featured physical affection between the main male character and one of the female characters. The first was a scene where the two were trying on hats in the market and she gave him a brief kiss on the lips. The second was in the final scene when he said goodbye to her by kissing his index finger and planting it on her lips. We considered the theme music, played throughout the ad, with the lyrics "Tonight, I want to be with you" alluded to a sexual attraction between the two characters. However, we considered that these interactions between the couple did not constitute sexual activity, sexual success or seduction. We considered they were mildly flirtatious behaviours and noted that the Code did not preclude linking alcohol to flirtation or romance. We therefore concluded that the ad did not link alcohol with sexual activity, sexual success or seduction.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 19.6 (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not Upheld
We considered that the male character appeared confident and popular from the outset. At the start of the ad, he was shown approaching the two women in a nearby bar to ask them for directions with his map of the island. During the exchange, the women were shown laughing. The three characters were then shown driving around the island in a jeep, dancing and having a good time together at a beach party and then running along the beach and swimming together. The male character was not shown with alcohol until 20 seconds into the ad, at which point he was seen holding two bottles of beer on the beach. Although he did not drink from them, we considered this scene established him as an Estrella beer drinker. We noted another scene briefly showed him clinking a bottle of Estrella with friends in celebratory fashion before enjoying a meal. He was, however, not seen drinking any alcohol until the final scene when he took a swig from his bottle of Estrella beer whilst at the ferry terminal having said goodbye to his female companions. We considered that it was established early on in the ad that the male character was a confident independent traveller who was open to and adept at making new friendships and that his confidence and popularity was not due to him having consumed alcohol. We therefore concluded that the ad did not imply that alcohol contributed to the male character's popularity.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 19.3 (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
3. Not Upheld
We agreed with Wells & Youngs' comment that the ad depicted an entire summer on the island of Formentera and that this was clear from the fact that the events shown were separated in time and space and the main character was seen in different locations, wearing different clothes and with different friends. We also agreed with Clearcast's comment that alcohol featured in a realistic, incidental and minimal way. Although bottles of Estrella featured briefly throughout the ad, they were incidental to the activities and fun the characters were having. None of the characters were seen drinking alcohol apart from the main male character who was seen drinking Estrella in the final scene at the end of his holiday. In most of the scenes, such as the beach party scene, on the boat, and in the local market, alcohol did not feature at all. There was no suggestion that the characters were having a good time because of consuming alcohol; their exchanges were playful, natural and spontaneous throughout the ad, regardless of whether or not alcohol was present. We therefore considered that the ad did not imply that the success of the holiday depended on the presence of alcohol.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 19.4 (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.