Heineken escapes ad ban despite complaints it linked booze to sexual success

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected complaints that a Heineken TV ad encouraged excessive drinking and linked alcohol to sexual success.

The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council said the ad by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam encouraged excessive drinking, linked alcohol with "unwise and unsafe" physical activities, implied that the drink could contribute to someone’s popularity and linked it with sexual success.

The ad shows a man getting into a taxi as a woman left. He finds she left a number of business cards on the seat, prompting a surreal journey around the city.

The man asks the taxi driver to take him to a salon, which is named on one of the cards. At the salon he is handed a bottle of beer in an ice bucket and then receives a shave.

He visits other venues he sees on the business cards such as a racecourse where he takes part in a race, a bar where is handed another beer, and a further bar where he meets the woman from the taxi.

The pair has a beer in a private room, which breaks off the main building and they travel over the city on a wire.

The ad was shown on TV and an extended version featured on YouTube.

Heineken said that the main character was not shown consuming alcohol and the ad did not imply that he was intoxicated.

Clearcast also reiterated that the character was not shown drinking in the TV ad.

The brewer said the racing scene was "highly fantastical" was meant to be seen as fun, not serious.

It also said there was no suggestion of seduction when the man and woman finally met.

The ASA agreed with the points made by Heineken and Clearcast and did not uphold any of the four complaints made by the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council.

It said: "While the ads suggested that a couple of drinks may have been consumed across the entire evening, we considered there was no implication of drinking to excess and no suggestion that any of the characters were intoxicated."