The ad for the Let There Be Beer campaign – funded by AB In-Bev, Carlsberg, Heineken, Miller Brands and Molson Coors – breached four different parts of the Advertising Standards Authority’s code of practice.
The watchdog upheld four complaints from Alcohol Concern and ruled the ad must not appear again.
But the charity’s policy programme manager, Tom Smith, said the ASA is failing the youth of Britain and the drinks trade is exploiting it.
“Most of the British beer industry, with its enormous financial weight, legal advice and expertise, approved this ad for viewing, yet it broke four different rules,” he added.
“TV adverts for alcohol are pre-vetted, meaning there should be a layer of protection. But the upholding of our complaint shows how flimsy this process is.
“This is a perfect example of the failings of alcohol advertising regulation. The Let There Be Beer campaign is long-since finished and is only now, after months of investigation, being shown to have broken the rules.
“Viewed by millions on TV, the ad has already had its effect, yet the producers effectively face no punishment.”
Smith runs Alcohol Concern’s Youth Alcohol Advertising Council. This group of youngsters trawls TV, online and print ads to find ones that breach the code and reports them to the ASA. It has already had five complaints upheld against supplier Hi-Spirits this year.
Smith said: “Yet again we are leaving a group of young people to monitor the practices of the hugely powerful drinks industry. It’s time to protect young people by taking action to stop these big businesses putting profit before people by advertising their products irresponsibly.”