Heineken prevails over Alcohol Concern in advertising row

11 March, 2015

The advertising watchdog has dismissed a complaint from Alcohol Concern arguing that a Heineken TV ad encouraged excessive drinking and linked alcohol to social and sexual success.

The ad shows a man trying to track down a woman who loses her business card holder, heading to all the places she has cards for.

His quest takes him to a salon, a tailor, a racetrack and a couple of bars, and he is given a few beers as he gets a haircut, a new suit and plays the piano before zooming across London in a pod with the woman.

The charity’s Youth Alcohol Advertising Council complained the ad encouraged binge drinking by showing the man drinking more than the recommended daily limit.

It argued the ad linked alcohol with physical activities that would be unwise and unsafe, implied that alcohol could contribute to an individual's popularity or confidence and enhance personal qualities, and linked alcohol with sexual success.

But Heineken argued the protagonist never actually drank from any of the bottles, did not act drunk and that alcohol had not caused or contributed to his circumstances or characteristics or enhanced his personal qualities.

The Advertising Standards Authority agreed and dismissed all the complaints, ordering that no further action needed to be taken and that the ads could continue to appear on TV and YouTube.

The ASA said: “Despite being shown holding a bottle of Heineken on several occasions, neither the main character nor any other featured characters in the ads were shown actually drinking.

“Whilst the ads suggested that a couple of drinks may have been consumed across the entire evening, we considered there was no implication of drinking to excess and no suggestion that any of the characters were intoxicated. For these reasons we considered that the ad did not encourage irresponsible or immoderate drinking.”

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