The ad showed a spoof awards ceremony in which a character called Carl Guyenette wins an award for Best Strongbow As My Other Half.
The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council, supported by Alcohol Concern, complained to the Advertising Standards Agency that the ad portrayed alcohol as indispensable and taking priority in life.
In the ad, Carl does not come to the ceremony because he is on a date, but sends the message: “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.”
The ad was part of a Youtube series showing spoof Strongbow awards, and Heineken pulled the whole run of ads following the complaint – which it said was the first the campaign had received.
The company said: “We strongly believe it was clear to viewers that the ad was a parody of award ceremonies and that it could not be reasonably inferred from the ad that alcohol consumption took priority in life and/or was indispensable.”
But the ASA upheld the complaint and banned the ad.
It said: “Where the presenter stated Carl was on a date, viewers were likely to infer from this either that Carl was not at the awards ceremony because he was with Strongbow or that, judging from the presenter’s tone of voice, expression and where he stated ‘… good luck with your date’, which indicated a level of scepticism, the date was unlikely to go well because Carl was already committed to his relationship with Strongbow.
“For those reasons, we considered the ad implied that alcohol was as important as, if not more important than, personal relationships and therefore was portrayed as being indispensable and taking priority in life. We concluded that the ad breached the Code and we welcomed Heineken’s confirmation that it had already been removed.”