David Beckham does 'not have strong appeal to children', says ASA

An ad for Haig Club whisky featuring David Beckham has survived censure from the Advertising Standards Authority, after it concluded he does "not have strong appeal to children".

The ad, created by Adam & Eve/DDB and directed by Guy Ritchie, featured Beckham and friends arriving at a remote location, before congregating in smart attire. 

Beckham poured the assembled group glasses of Haig Club before they posed for pictures, as the background and setting changed to places around the world.

Eventually the arrangement returned to the original group photograph. 

The ad ended by returning to the original group photograph before closing a shot of the whisky and the caption: "Haig Club single grain Scotch whisky. Welcome."

The ad ran on TV and an identical version ran on the brand's website and YouTube channel. 

The ASA got three complaints about the ad, including one from Alcohol Concern, who said it would appeal to those aged below 18, and was therefore breached the BCAP codes on social responsibility.

Alcohol Concern complained that the ad: featured David Beckham, who would appeal to children; suggested drinking was a component of social success and refusal was a sign of weakness; and that it implied drinking was a key component of success in a social situation or relationship.

Diageo, which owns the Haig brand, said Beckham was an integral part of the brand, which was developed by him Beckham and the manager and TV producer Simon Fuller.

Diageo stated that the brand was designed to appeal to those between the ages of 25 and 40, and this is specifically why Beckham was chosen. They said Beckham had not played professionally in the UK for more than ten years, and would appeal most to those who followed his progress in the 1998 World Cup.

The company added that Beckham was perhaps now better known for his charity and humanitarian work, and as a commercial figurehead, promoting Breitling, Belstaff, Jaguar and Las Vegas Sands, among others.

Diageo said Beckham's recent BBC documentary reached 5 million viewers, 95 per cent of whom were over 18. In addition, 76 per cent of his Facebook page subscribers were over 18.

For the content, Diageo said the ad depicted a group of friends travelling to the Scottish Highlands to meet-up. The characters were depicted as good friends, and happy to be spending time in each other's company.

The changing scenes and landscapes represented previous meetings between the friends.

Clearcast said alcohol was not presented as a key component of social success and the ad did not imply that the success of a social occasion was dependent on the presence or consumption of alcohol.

YouTube said the video did not violate their advertising policies, which includes sticking to relevant laws and regulations, and were not aware of any complaints received in relation to the video.

The ASA agreed the use of Beckham in an alcohol ad was appropriate, as he does "not have strong appeal to children".

Although social occasions were represented in the ad, the ASA noted that the preamble to the photograph scene demonstrated the established friendship between the characters and only the present day shot showed them drinking.

One of the complainants had been concerned about the use of the word "club" and the ASA noted that the use of the word "welcome" at the end of the ad alluded to social activity.

However, the ASA ruled that because the word club was in the brand’s name most people would understand it to be a reference to "Haig Club" rather than a suggestion that purchasing or consuming the product would lead to social success or belonging.

After taking into account the various elements, the ASA concluded the ad did not imply that drinking was a key component of social success or acceptance, the success of a personal relationship or social event, or that refusal was a sign of weakness.

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