The video, published on June 18, 2016 to tie in with the UEFA Euro 2016 football championships, featured football manager Stuart Pearce and a delivery driver arriving at a building site with a large crate of Carlsberg for the builders.
After an informal football game, workers each carried away one pack of Carlsberg on their shoulders. On-screen text stated ‘Bulk Beer’ and ‘If Carlsberg did substitutions.’
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The video advert (which you can watch below) was shown on the YouTube page of Trade Point (a trade building supplies company).
Carlsberg: No alcohol consumed during ad
Carlsberg defended its ad, saying that references in the video to ‘the summer’ and the Euros suggested that alcohol should be consumed over a prolonged period of time.
No one in the ad was shown consuming alcohol; nor was there any suggestion that anyone had consumed alcohol.
Carlsberg said the ad showed no further use of machinery after the beer was delivered and believed it was clear that workers left the site with their packs of Carlsberg unopened.
Trade Point added that the ad should be seen in the context of the text "If Carlsberg did substitutions," which intended to make it clear that the substitution of beer and a visit by Stuart Pearce for bulk construction materials was completely fanciful.
ASA: Ad links alcohol with building site
But the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) said that any link between alcohol and a building site was problematic.
“The delivery of a large crate of Carlsberg, which was then distributed among the workers even though none was shown to be opened and drunk, linked alcohol with a building site,” it ruled.
“Regardless of the possible further link with potentially dangerous machinery, we considered that a building site would be an unsafe and unwise location in which to consume alcohol. Because the ad linked alcohol with that location, we concluded that it breached the Code.”
The complainant, Alcohol Concern, also challenged whether the video breached the Code by encouraging excessive drinking and implying alcohol was a key component to the success of a social occasion.
However, the ASA did not uphold either of these complaints.
Carlsberg: 'We question whether the complainant is acting in the interests of consumers'
In response to the ASA's ruling, Carlsberg says the responsible marketing of its products is part of its DNA, and emphasises it has thorough processes in place to ensure advertising and social media content complies with regulatory codes.
“We therefore welcome the ASA’s decision to not uphold the majority of the challenges raised by the complainant, Alcohol Concern, regarding our summer advertising.
"In our opinion this vindicates the time, diligence and regard we put into promoting responsible alcohol consumption.
“Where the ASA has upheld one challenge by Alcohol Concern, we remain firm in our belief that our advertising illustrated a fanciful environment, where no machinery was in operation and no alcohol consumption was shown.
"In addition, given the time and effort we take to ensure all of our advertising is compliant with the code, and the fact that to our knowledge not a single member of the public complained, we question whether the complainant is acting in the interests of consumers or of the complainant’s own agenda.
“Of course, whilst we are disappointed, we will abide by the ruling and have removed the specific piece of content from our websites and social channels.”