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UK: "Suggestive" ale ad breaches advertising code

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UK regional brewer Shepherd Neame has contravened advertising regulations after an ad was found to link alcohol and sexual activity.

The UK's Advertising Standards Agency found that the brewer's ad for its Bishops Finger ale brand linked alcohol with "seduction and sexual activity". The ad, which appeared in London-based magazine Time Out, showed a woman in a low-cut mediaeval costume sitting provocatively on a bale of hay. The ad's headline said: "I love a good session on the Bishops Finger". The ad's strapline stated: "At 5.4% it's near the knuckle."

The ASA said today: "We considered that the text 'I love a good session on the Bishops Finger' played on the connotations of drinking and sexual activity. We considered that the woman's pose was suggestive and concluded that, in combination with the headline text, it was likely to be seen as linking alcohol with seduction and sexual activity."

However, the ASA dismissed complaints that the ad encouraged excessive drinking.

Shepherd Neame, based in Kent, said the ad was "designed to amuse and entertain not to offend".

A spokesman said: "The campaign is born out of Shepherd Neame's Kentish heritage and evokes the spirit of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The beer takes its name from finger-shaped signposts, which guided pilgrims on their way to Canterbury.

"These adverts were tested with a sample group of men and women of all ages. They felt the adverts were consistently amusing and enjoyable. There was even a level of expectation for a risqué campaign, given the brand name, Bishops Finger."

He added that the brewer had agreed to remove the "suggestive" text.


Sectors: Beer & cider

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