AMV's latest Guinness ad courts controversy

Guinness has defended itself from possible charges of exploiting human misery in a new television commercial which features people fleeing from an erupting volcano.

News of the campaign came in the same week as hundreds in Papua New Guinea and Mexico faced having their homes and livelihoods threatened by volcanic activity.

In the new ad, produced by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, a young man in a village threatened by a nearby volcano removes his shoes and socks and walks across molten lava to rescue a keg of Guinness, which has fallen through a collapsed wall.

A Guinness spokeswoman said the ad was not an attempt to capitalise on the suffering caused by natural disasters, but a "black comedy".

The company claims the images in the film - a pig scoffing an abandoned cake, a large woman running outside in her underwear to grab her clothes from a washing line and a man soaking in his bath as his wall disappears - suggest none of the action should be taken seriously. "We are not making fun of natural disasters. That wasn't the intention,

the spokeswoman said.

The ad, supported by a £1.8 million spend, is due to make its debut during the match between France and Senegal, which will open the World Cup on 31 May.

The Independent Television Commission said: "It is difficult to predict which ads will or won't cause offence."

The commercial, the latest in Guinness' "Believe

campaign, involved a two-week shoot, directed by Rupert Sanders for Outsider. It involved a crew of hundreds to create the scenery.

More than 300 hours were spent in post-production for the 60- and 30-second executions, which were written by Tony Strong and art directed by Mike Durban. Media is being bought by Carat.

The spot marks a return to AMV for Guinness. Its last campaign was developed by Irish International.