Wells & Youngs escapes ban over Estrella ad

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Estrella beer is made by Wells & Youngs Brewing Company
Estrella beer is made by Wells & Youngs Brewing Company

Related tags: Alcohol, Asa

An Estrella beer advert was slammed by the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC) for encouraging irresponsible drinking among young people and linking alcohol to sex.

The YAAC complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), but the TV advert avoided a ban, unlike other prominent brewers caught out recently over similar complaints.

The ad showed a band playing at a party, before cutting to scenes from earlier in the day. A man was shown preparing paella for friends at a villa. Various scenes showed the group enjoying an afternoon in the sun, playing table tennis, whilst drinking and holding bottles of Estrella.

As the man cooked paella, the others helped prepare additional food and the garden for dinner. At dinner the whole group was shown drinking Estrella. As evening fell the band was again shown performing to the group, who were drinking and dancing together. At the end, a couple were shown kissing as the voice-over, and on-screen text, stated “Mediterraneamente. Estrella”.

Not targeted at youth audience

Wells & Youngs Brewing Company argued the ad was not targeted at a youth audience. It said the activities featured clearly took place over a full day as the viewer saw daylight and then night falling, and they believed the amount of alcohol shown was not excessive over that time period.

It also highlighted only one bottle of Estrella per adult was shown during the dinner scene, and no dangerous or irresponsible activities were portrayed in the ad, just preparing a meal and the table for dinner, table tennis and dancing.

Advertising advisory body Clearcast said the ad showed no immoderate drinking, no one appeared drunk, the group was not rowdy and beer was not consumed irresponsibly. It said no one could be identified as having drunk more than one beer. Those involved were shown taking only sips and food featured as an accompaniment, it highlighted.

Shared kiss

The shared kiss was not linked to the consumption of beer and was not portrayed in a sexual or suggestive way, it added.

Those in the group were clearly friends and that, in the context of the ad, the kiss at the dance would be seen as between an established couple, it said. Furthermore, it did not believe the kiss was passionate.

The ASA agreed with these arguments, found no breach of advertising standards and so decided not to ban the ad. “Those drinking were shown doing so in a responsible manner, as they took occasional and controlled sips, and while all the characters were clearly enjoying the day and each other's company, no one appeared to be intoxicated or drinking to excess,”​ it said in its ruling.

‘Playful and flirtatious’

The dancing scenes were “not sexually suggestive”​, said the ASA. “In addition, we considered that the kiss at the end of the ad was playful and flirtatious in tone, as opposed to sexually charged. Because of that, we concluded that the ad did not link alcohol with sexual activity, sexual success or seduction.”

The judgment contrasts with previous ASA rulings, notably its banning of a Facebook ad for its offensive language, encouragement of excessive drinking and linking of alcohol to sexual activity​.

In February this year, the ASA also banned a Diageo Captain Morgan rum advert​ for linking alcohol with daring, toughness and aggressive behaviour.

Related topics: Drinks, Legal

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