Watchdog sees red at ginger beer posters

Last updated 05:00 13/11/2012
hakanoa ginger beer
'OFFENSIVE': The Hakanoa ginger beer ad deemed socially irresponsible and discriminatory.

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The advertising governing body has upheld complaints about a ginger beer ad poking fun at red-headed people.

Hakanoa Ginger Beer posters were circulated in Auckland streets and posted on the firm's Facebook page. The Advertising Standards Authority found them to be socially irresponsible, offensive and discriminatory.

A woman was depicted walking from a shop drinking ginger beer, leaving a small red-haired child in the shop.

"Let's be honest; no one really wants a ginger," the ad said. "So if you've got one, bring it in and we'll swap it for something you really want, a delicious six-pack of Hakanoa Ginger Beer."

The authority's complaints board agreed with several complainants that the ad singled out red-headed children as not being wanted, and as a group to be ridiculed. It said: "In this instance, the ‘ginger' stereotype combined with the wording used in the advertisement was likely to cause serious and widespread offence in the light of generally prevailing community standards."

The ad's creators, M&C Saatchi, apologised to anyone offended, saying they and Hakanoa staff "had ginger-haired children in their families".

The ad was overtly ridiculous and in no way serious, the authority was told, but Hakanoa had received death threats. The ad has since been removed.

Another complaint, over the "slow-speaking and simple-minded" speech of teenage Boy actor James Rolleston in a Vodafone television ad, was rejected.

The viewer took umbrage over the young actor's "overused and offensive archetype" of Maori speech in the ad, which features a racing greyhound called Metaphor.

But the authority disagreed, saying his casual speaking manner was in keeping with the "vernacular of most teenagers".

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- The Dominion Post

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