Tiger Beer ladyboy ad banned for casting sex slur

LONDON - A Tiger Beer poster ad depicting a ladyboy and a bottle of Tiger Beer as two of the Far East's most desirable exports has been banned by the advertising watchdog for linking exports with the sex trade and disrespecting Eastern culture.

Meanwhile, Stella Artois has escaped censure over its TV ad about brewing since 1366 despite 94 complaints that it misleadingly implied maize had been used as a brewing agent since that time.

The Tiger Beer ad, created by CHI & Partners, appeared on posters and in the Metro and sister freesheet paper London Lite.

It featured a small image of a bottle of Tiger Beer in the top left-hand corner labelled as "The Far East's most desirable export since 1932".

In the foreground there was a large image of a man wearing black stockings, knickers and a bra with a star saying "3rd" placed over his groin.

The Advertising Standards Authority received eight complaints from people who said the image of the person, who some believed to be a woman, was offensive because it linked exports with a person in a sexually provocative pose, which they felt was inappropriate given reports of human trafficking for the sex trade.

Some of the complainants also objected that the ad was offensive and disrespectful to Eastern culture because it implied beer and sex were some of the best things to come out of the region.

Tiger Beer defended the ad saying that ladyboys, which generally refers to a male-to-female transgender person or an effeminate gay male in Thailand, were a famous export of the Far East worldwide and the image in the ad was representative of a cabaret performer rather than a prostitute or model.

The campaign was intended to reflect Tiger Beer's Far Eastern heritage by presenting it in the context of other recognised exports including ladyboys, tuk tuks, chop sticks and acupuncture.

However, Tiger Beer said that since running the ads it realised members of the public beyond the target audience could have misinterpreted them and has decided to remove the ladyboy image from the campaign.

The ASA upheld the complaints noting that the ad was likely to be seen by many consumers outside of its target audience, particularly when appearing in the untargeted poster medium.

It considered that by presenting the character in sexual clothing and a provocative pose alongside the implication that they were rated the Far East's third most desirable export, the ad appeared to link exports with the sex trade and, potentially, human trafficking.

The advertising watchdog also decided that the ad suggested beer and sex were two of the best exports of the Far East, which was disrespectful to Eastern culture. 

In the Stella Artois adjudication, the ASA decided not to uphold complaints from 94 viewers who thought that its TV ad was misleading because they did not believe that maize had been used as a brewing agent since 1366.

Some of the viewers also challenged whether the ad, created by Lowe, misleadingly implied Stella Artois had been brewed in its current form since 1366.

The ASA noted that there was no evidence to show maize was used in brewing beer in the 14th century in Leuven, but considered that the clearly fictional context of the ad, with its fantastical elements and dramatic imagery, meant viewers were unlikely to misinterpret the onscreen text "the finest hops, the purest water, maize and barley" as a literal claim about the ingredients in 14th century beer.