Controversial beer ads OK'd

Posters rejected by London Underground deemed light-hearted

Mar 14, 2001 - A British advertising watchdog has rejected a decision to ban brewer Shepherd Neame's Spitfire beer posters from the London Underground. In December, Underground authorities ordered them removed from trains because they were viewed as offensive to Germans.


Advertising Standards Authority noted that Germans also have a sense of humor and that the references to World War II are light-hearted. Shepherd Neame first brewed Spitfire in 1990 on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and has used the war theme in its advertising since.

None of the complainants was German. The Authority also didn't accept that one of the posters with the slogan "Rear gunners drink lager shandy" was homophobic. Shepherd Neame said the complaints had been fuelled by "overzealous" political correctness.

The company has also raised some eyebrows in its award-winning Bottle of Britain campaign with the use of the slogan: "No Fokker comes close." The latest 250,000 campaign featured five advertisements with such slogans as "Have the sunbeds, we're off to the bar" and "Votz zo funny about zeez posters?"

In its ruling, the authority noted that the posters merely reflected "an aspect of British cultural history," namely a rivalry with Germany, and said the reference to "rear gunner" fell "on the right side of acceptability."

Jonathan Neame, the brewery's managing director, said the authority had agreed "with the majority of people who accept our adverts as tongue in cheek." A German Embassy spokesman said that it was a "misconception" that Germans lacked a sense of humor.

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