The TV advert, which aired in May this year, featured a woman in a pub who is suddenly transported on a fantasy-style brewery tour with an animated beer guide.
AB InBev argued that the advert had a clear adult tone throughout, and said the inclusion of animated characters alone would not make an ad of strong appeal to under 18s: citing cartoon shows such as Family Guy, South Park and Futurama (which are all aimed at an adult audience).
Furthermore, it said the illustrative style used a color palette was dark, earthy and dull with on-brand colors – in contrast to the bright colors used by children’s cartoon shows.
While the ASA agreed that the style of the cartoon was similar to programs aimed at a mature audience, it considered other aspects – such as the fantastical-looking world and the inclusion of bright colors in some of the scenes – would be seen as ‘fun and engaging’ and likely to appeal to a younger audience.
The beer guide character was also brightly colored, rounded and could change shape. "We considered that it looked amiable and friendly, had soft facial features including rounded cheeks, and could be said to resemble a make-believe character in a children’s book or TV program, said the ASA: adding that his appearance was likely to appeal to under 18s.
The watchdog also considered that actions of the character – such as winking and giving the thumbs up sign – were juvenile and engaging and therefore added to the advert's appeal to younger viewers.
For this reason, it ruled that the advert was likely to strongly appeal to people under 18 and should not appear again in its current form.