Underground bans beer ads

Shepherd Neame's Spitfire posters tagged for German bashing

Dec 19, 2000 - German-bashing ads from Shepherd Neame's Spitfire beer have once again sparked controvery in Great Britain. The London Underground ordered Spitfire posters removed from subway trains because they were considered offensive.


Poking fun at Germans became the theme of subway ad campaigns from the Kent-based brewery three years ago. "Downed all over Kent, just like the Luftwaffe," read one poster. "Goering, Goering, gone," was another. Spitfire started a new campaign early in December.

One poster quickly deemed verboten by the Underground leans heavily on the pervasive impression among British vacationers that Germans get up at the crack of dawn and hog the best chairs around the swimming pool. "Have the sun beds. We're going to the bar," it reads.

Another banned ad says simply, "Votz zo funny about zeez posters?" A third is titled "enemy identification chart." A takeoff on the charts used during the war to spot enemy aircraft, it shows the silhouette of two beer glasses - one a squat British pint and the other an elaborate German stein. The pint says "ours," the stein says "theirs."

Spitfire was originally brewed to mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when Spitfire fighter planes were credited with saving the nation from Nazi invasion. The beer was so successful that family-owned brewer Shepherd Neame decided to make it a permanent brand.

Some Germans are clearly not amused by the advertising. Last year, the departing German ambassador, Gebhardt von Moltke, accused the British of "profound ignorance" about modern Germany and suggested that history instruction in Britain seems to end with Hitler.

"It is certainly not intended to be offensive," said Stuart Neame, whose family owns the brewery. "The vast majority of people find it very amusing. . . . I think it's highly unlikely that Germans would even understand it."

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