ASA Adjudication on Wells & Youngs Brewing Company Ltd
Wells & Youngs Brewing Company Ltd t/a
15 April 2009
Number of complaints:
A poster, for Courage beer, showed a nervous looking man sitting on a sofa with a can and glass of beer beside him. A woman was standing with her back to him wearing a figure-hugging dress that had its sales label still attached. Text, in a speech bubble coming from a large pint of beer, stated "TAKE COURAGE MY FRIEND".
Three members of the public believed the poster implied that the beer would give the man confidence to either make negative comments on the woman's appearance or take advantage of her.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Wells & Youngs Brewing Company (W&Y) said the Courage brand was known as an easy going every day beer, for easy going every day people and its heritage was about celebrating and enjoying times with friends in the local community pub. They said their recent advertising picked up the theme from their advertising from the 1950s to 1980s by using the strapline "Take Courage", which was a call to action to choose Courage over other beers.
W&Y said they took a number of steps, including legal advice, to ensure there was no breach of the Code and no reference to bravery in the poster and that the brand name was used appropriately. They believed the poster featured a situation many men could relate to, where the man was likely to be asked what he thought of the woman's new dress. They believed it was clear from the expression on his face that he would rather be elsewhere and not facing the dilemma. They said they carried out several pieces of consumer research before publication but there had been no suggestion that the poster implied the beer would give the man courage, change his mood or give him confidence. They did not believe this was implied by the text "TAKE COURAGE MY FRIEND", which they said was simply a call to choose Courage beers over competitor brands.
The ASA noted W&Ys comments that the text "TAKE COURAGE MY FRIEND" was a call to action to buy Courage over other beers and also that it used the brand name in a manner that was evocative of earlier campaigns. However, we considered that the combination of the text and the image of the man with an open beer can and half empty glass of beer was likely to be understood by consumers to carry the clear implication that the beer would give the man enough confidence to tell the woman that the dress was unflattering. We did not consider that consumers generally would believe that the poster suggested that the man would be unnecessarily negative or take advantage of the woman, but would simply tell the truth. Although we understood the humorous intention of the scenario, we concluded that the poster breached the Code by suggesting that the beer could increase confidence.
The poster breached CAP Code clause 56.8 (Alcoholic drinks).
The poster must not appear again in its current form.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)