RPM3 takes Spitfire off TV to keep ads 'edgier'

The Spitfire Ale campaign is shifting to press advertising to sustain its edgy approach.

The Shepherd Neame ale brand made its TV debut last year but RPM3, the agency that created the campaign, said that it was in perpetual danger of falling foul of small-screen advertising regulators. The ads draw their inspiration from the humour of the Blitz and mock the Germans.

The campaign, under the theme "the bottle of Britain", will continue this week with new advertising in national broadsheets.

The relentless mocking of the Germans by evoking what the agency calls the "Blighty spirit" has also been the subject of several complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, all of which have been rejected.

Two years ago, London Underground ordered a series of Spitfire posters, one of which asked "Votz so funny about zees posters?", to be removed from tube sites and refunded the brewer's money.

The new campaign continues the irreverent theme with lines such as "No nazi aftertaste" and a picture of Hitler accompanied by the line: "Spot the ball."

Another features a bottle of Spitfire accompanied by the names of three Battle of Britain fighter stations - Northholt, Biggin Hill and Duxford - while a fourth shows a row of medals along with a bottle opener hanging from a medal ribbon.

The ads were written by Ian Pittams, Jonathan Drapes and Merlin Sinclair and art directed by Denis Williams, Keith Otter, Rob Phillips and Russell Wailes, the agency's creative director.

John Ayling & Associates is buying media for the campaign, which targets upmarket thirtysomething ale drinkers. Shepherd Neame cited the ads as the reason why Spitfire has recorded a 26 per cent year increase in sales, while the overall market has seen a 9 per cent decline.

Mark Brandis, the RPM3 managing director, said: "We felt we were always having to tone down the television work to get it through the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre. Using press allows us to be edgier, although we've ensured the humour remains in line with public taste."

RPM3 has handled the brand for the past six years, having approached Shepherd Neame speculatively with creative proposals. Since then, the advertising has achieved cult status and copies of the ads are in great demand.

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