Heineken has apologised to a church and escaped sanction from the advertising authorities after admitting it used an erroneous picture of a Methodist clergyman in an ad for its Bulmers cider brand. 

The company said it was made aware last month that a “serious error” was made in the magazine ad, which used an image of the late Reverend Hugh Price Hughes, instead of the late Reverend Charles H Bulmer. Hughes was the first superintendent of the West London Mission, a Methodist group which supports people with alcohol-related problems.

In a statement to just-drinks today (11 November), Heineken said: “Whilst we take great care to ensure that our marketing is accurate and complies fully with the guidelines that govern alcohol advertising, we very occasionally make a mistake and our investigation revealed this to be the case”. 

The company's advertising agency was unable to find a picture of Reverend Bulmer, so used a shot from an image library "intended to be indicative of the period", Heineken said. 

The statement added: “We shared our findings with the church (Hinde Road Methodist Church) and they have accepted our unreserved apologies for the concern and embarrassment that our error caused.

“We have assured them that the advertisement will not be repeated in its current form and the Advertising Standards Authority have confirmed they are satisfied that the matter has been amicably resolved and they plan to take no further action.”