Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.

Ad description

A TV ad and Video on Demand (VOD) ad for The Woodsman whisky:

a. The TV ad, seen on 29 April 2023, featured animated beavers working by a river, chopping, sawing and carrying wood while jaunty music played. One shot showed a beaver quickly chomping the bark off a log. Another showed two beavers carrying a bottle of whisky on a plank as they walked across a tree that bridged the river. The ad ended with two beavers sitting in the hot tub they had built. A voice-over stated, “The Woodsman Whisky loves a doer. So don’t dilly-dally: do. And do what those that do do when they’re done doing. The Woodsman Whisky ? well earned.” The final shot featured a tired-looking beaver raising a glass of whisky under large on-screen text “THE WOODSMAN WELL EARNED”, with the hot tub in the background.

b. The VOD ad, seen on 30 April 2023, was identical to the TV ad.


Three complainants, who believed that the beavers featured in the ads were appealing to people aged under 18 years of age, challenged whether:

1. ad (a) was likely to appeal strongly to people aged under 18; and

2. ad (b) was likely to appeal particularly to people aged under 18.


1. & 2. Whyte and Mackay Ltd said they took measures to ensure they developed ads that engaged their target consumers, who were 25 to 54 years of age, while complying with the Advertising Codes. They had worked closely with Clearcast and relevant industry bodies, had taken note of CAP guidance on alcohol advertising and had sought advice from CAP’s Copy Advice team on the VOD ad.

They highlighted that the characters were purposefully realistic, with hardened features such as grotesque teeth and uneven claws. They considered that because of that, the characters were not humorous or puppet-like. The voice-over was delivered by a deep, adult male voice, which they said was designed to engage their target consumer. The landscape was realistic, with muted light, to avoid bright and colourful imagery. They considered that the narrative of the characters being at work, undertaking outdoor woodworking in the wild, was not humorous or associated with juvenile behaviour or youth culture. They added that they had targeted the ads to an adult audience through their media placement, and whenever possible their specific target audience of adults aged 25 to 54.

Clearcast highlighted that the ad depicted the beavers working in an outdoor environment and did not feature adolescent or juvenile behaviour. Its main message was that a whisky should be earned after a long day of hard work, which they did not consider to be associated with youth culture. They said that the beaver characters were rough-looking and did not appear cute, they were not smiling or talking, and did not behave in a playful manner, which might appeal to a much younger audience.


1. Not upheld

The BCAP Code required that alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal strongly to people aged under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour. Therefore, alcohol ads in broadcast media must not have content that would be of strong appeal to children, regardless of when they were broadcast.

The ASA acknowledged that the imagery of beavers rhythmically chopping and chomping on logs, together with the lively music featured in the ad, had an unusual and whimsical element, and therefore could appeal to some under-18s. However, we considered the overall tone and aesthetic of the ad was predominantly realistic and did not have a humorous or slapstick element to its depiction of the characters. The beavers were shown in their natural environment, against a dark, gloomy colour scheme. Their teeth and claws were clearly visible, which we considered gave an unappealing element to the beavers that would not be attractive to under-18s. While it was apparent that the characters were not real animals, they were not cartoon-like.

While the music featured in the ad had a cheerful tone, it did not have any attention-grabbing lyrics, and was more reminiscent of country music. We considered it was unlikely to have significant appeal to children. In addition, the voice-over featured a mature male voice of a comedian popular in the 1990s, which we did not consider to have resonance with under-18s.

For those reasons, we concluded that while the ad could have some appeal to people aged under 18, it was unlikely to appeal strongly to them, and was therefore not irresponsible.

On that point, we investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rules 19.15 and 19.15.1 (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.

2. Not upheld

The CAP Code required that alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal particularly to people under 18 years of age. They should not feature or portray real or fictitious characters who were likely to appeal particularly to people aged under 18 in a way that might encourage children and young people to drink. Alcohol ads must not, therefore, have content that would appeal more to under-18s than it would to over-18s.

We acknowledged that the use of animated animal characters had the potential to appeal to under-18s. However, for the same reasons set out above, we concluded that the beaver characters, and the other elements in the ad, were also unlikely to have more appeal to under-18s than to over-18s.

We therefore concluded the ad was not likely to appeal particularly to people under 18 years of age, and was not, therefore, irresponsible.

On that point, we investigated ad (b) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 18.14 (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.


18.14     19.15     19.15.1    

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