Aired in December 2011, the radio advert for Budweiser involved one male character – meant to be identified as an American football coach-type figure – giving a motivational speech to other males prior to a night out.
“Tonight you cannot be disappointed – it’s just another night…It’s on nights like tonight when you wanna bring your passport just in case. Gentleman you were conceived on a night like tonight,” he said.
“Gentlemen, you were conceived on a night like tonight. So before going out for that ice cold Budweiser, you put in that extra two minutes in front of the mirror. Because you never know who you’re going to meet.”
The advert continued in this vein, and one listener complained to the ASA that it linked alcohol to sexual success under code rule 19.6 of the BCAP code.
'Optimistic' American values
Upholding the complaint the ASA said that the advert must not be broadcast again in its current form, and told AB InBev to ensure that its future advertising did not link alcohol to sexual success.
“We considered the ad was likely to be understood as suggesting the group was preparing for an evening where alcohol would be drunk and during which the participants would have a great time, including the possibility of meeting a potential sexual partner,” the ASA said.
“We considered the ad linked alcohol to sexual success and therefore concluded that it breached the code.”
Responding to the ASA, AB InBev UK said it strongly believed its advert complied with the BCAP code, and said Budweiser’s UK advertising drew upon American values of optimism, free-spiritedness and a positive attitude.
Budweiser believed that an optimistic outlook and 'can-do' approach to life could bring about the sharing of great times with friends, AB InBev said. As part of that tradition the radio advert was designed to capture the “spirit of anticipation”.
AB InBev said that there were only two references to alcohol in the advert that came towards the very end of the coach's speech.
‘Conception could take place…’
But the company (whose other brands include Stella Artois and Becks) said that Budweiser references were independent of the messages delivered in the coach's speech, and neither directly linked consumption of alcohol to sexual success or activity, or implied that the alcohol consumption was essential.
The target audience would appreciate that Budweiser might be consumed during a night out with friends in a wide variety of social activities, AB InBev said, while the ad did not suggest that drinking alcohol would result in sexual success, sexual activity or enhanced attractiveness.
But the ASA said: “We considered, however, the tone of the ad was such that it was likely to be interpreted as reflecting a sense of anticipation ahead of an evening where alcohol would be drunk.”
“We noted it was suggested that it was on such nights that unexpected and significant events, including conception, could take place,” it added.
Asked for AB InBev's response to the ASA's ruling, a Budweiser spokeswoman told BeverageDaily.com: “Budweiser is fully committed to the responsible marketing of its products. In this case, we accept the ASA's decision and have removed the advertisement from air.”