Number of complaints: 1
A TV ad for Miller Genuine Draft beer showed a man sitting in a taxi waiting in a traffic jam. He looked at his watch, saw a pair of roller skates in a shop window, then began to roller skate to a concert to meet a group of friends. Along the way he performed a series of stunts (descending a staircase backwards, jumping through a tyre, somersaulting over a large group of dogs) and caught the eye of a woman who was drinking a bottle of Miller Genuine Draft beer. He arrived at the concert just in time to catch a glass of beer which was sliding along the bar and met his friends.
Miller Brands (UK) Ltd (Miller) said they were aware of the new guidance on alcohol advertising and youth appeal and had consulted with the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) from the script stage through to the final cut to make sure their ad did not breach the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code. They said they had made a number of changes to the script as a result, taking into account the BACC’s advice on skating style and tricks on skates appealing to youth, the timing of the actual drink order and their concerns on sexual appeal. In view of the ASA’s concerns they said they would not repeat the ad.
Issue & Response
A viewer believed:
1. the ad suggested alcohol could increase someone’s popularity and confidence
Miller asserted that the ad did not suggest alcohol could increase someone’s popularity and confidence. They maintained that all the actors in the ad acted responsibly. They said the roller skater drank alcohol only after he arrived at the show, and his friends made no comments on his skating. They emphasised that the lead character’s roller skating had nothing to do with drinking.
The ASA noted the comments made by Miller and the BACC and acknowledged that Miller had agreed not to show the ad again. Although we noted that the roller skater appeared to be self-assured and confident in his roller skating, we concluded that the ad did not present this as a consequence of him choosing to drink alcohol. We noted that the timing of the drink came at the end of the ad, after the skater had performed his stunts. We also noted that his friends had not seen his skating stunts and did not comment on his skills or single him out for praise. We therefore concluded that the ad did not suggest alcohol could could increase someone’s popularity or confidence.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 11.8.1(a)(1) (Popularity/confidence) but did not find it in breach.
2. the ad linked alcohol to sexual success.
Miller said the ad did not link alcohol to sexual success because everyone was dressed appropriately, the roller skater was well mannered and his interaction with other people was brief and friendly. Strangers and passers by were merely surprised to see an adult on roller skates.
We noted Miller’s assertion that the roller skater’s interaction with others was brief and friendly. We considered that his interaction with the woman who caught his eye while he was skating was no more than an acknowledgment, or at worst mild flirtation, and therefore did not breach the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code. We considered that the final scene at the concert showed a mixed group of friends aged over 25 years behaving responsibly, and did not imply a sexual motive on the part of any of the characters. We concluded that the ad did not link alcohol to sexual success.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 11.8.1(c) (Sexual success) but did not find it in breach.
The ASA challenged:
3. whether the ad would appeal strongly to under 18-year-olds by reflecting youth culture through the use of roller skating
Miller said they had consulted closely with the BACC on the issue of whether roller skating has youth appeal. They said the roller skates were made to look old fashioned and out-of-date so they would not appeal to youth culture. They also said that they had tried to avoid youth appeal, by not showing the roller skater in a skate park or skating with friends.
We acknowledged that Miller had used caution in how they presented the roller skater. We accepted their comments that he was not dressed in a way that would appeal to youth culture and was clearly over the age of 25. We also noted that they had not shown the roller skater in a skate park or skating with friends. However, although his roller skating was stylised, we considered that the action of roller skating, particularly when combined with the effortless cool of the execution of a series of tricks, was likely to appeal strongly to under 18s.
On this point the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 11.8.2(a) (Youth culture).
4. whether the ad would appeal strongly to under 18-year-olds because it showed daring behaviour through the roller skating stunts.
Miller said the skater was controlled and skilful, and that his skating was performed in a continual graceful effort. They said it was clear at all times that he was skating as a matter of efficiency because of the heavy traffic, and was not trying to look cool or show off.
The BACC said they had approved the idea of a roller skater at script stage provided the skater was clearly over 25 years of age and the skating was done in a stylised way, “like a 1950s dance routine”. They considered that that would not have youth appeal. They said they had advised the agency to remove a number of scenes from the finished ad which showed skating tricks that could have youth appeal. They said they had advised the agency that the ad must not target under 25-year-olds.
We considered that the somersault over a group of dogs, the jump through a tyre and the backwards descent of a staircase constituted daring behaviour, and concluded that the ad associated alcohol with feats that would be considered dangerous, and appeal strongly to under 18s.
On this point the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 11.8.1(b) (Daring).
We told Miller not to repeat the ad.
sheesh! my awesome roller-skating beer ad gets taken off the air, while hundreds of people complain about commercials with an annoying frog, complete with genitalia, and they can’t keep that off the airwaves?? talk about an annoying thing — that’s completely lame!