Skinny Blonde Beer
NINE COMPLAINTS MAY 2009 - MARCH 2010
THE AD: Skinny Blonde beer advertising (online and packaging) was the subject of six complaints to the ABAC Panel and three complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau between May 2009 and March 2010. The complaints related to a number of website features, including a microsite featuring a ‘Six Pack’ of young blonde women who bared their breasts when an interactive ‘thermostat’ was turned up by the user, and a Facebook fan page with links to a video suggesting a connection between weight loss and drinking low-carbohydrate beer. Complaints also related to the bottle label, which had an image of a woman whose bikini faded off as the beer was consumed and the bottle warmed up.
ISSUES RAISED: The complaints raised a number of issues under the AANA Code of Ethics and the ABAC, including offensive content, encouraging excessive and rapid consumption, using models that appeared to be under the age of 25, highly sexualized content, discrimination against women, linking alcohol consumption with sexual success and a change in mood or environment, and portrayal of nudity.
OUTCOME: Both the Advertising Standards Bureau and the ABAC Panel found breaches of applicable codes.
Advertising Standards Bureau determinations:
In June 2009, the Advertising Standards Bureau found the ‘Six Pack’ microsite (originally called ‘The Milk Bar’) breached the AANA Code of Ethics for not treating sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity, and for objectifying and discriminating against women. The advertiser responded stating it had removed the microsite. In September 2009, the Bureau found the same breaches of the AANA Code of Ethics in relation to another Skinny Blonde microsite, this time a ‘Staring Competition’ video where a model removed her bikini top and bared her breasts. The advertiser responded stating the video had been removed.
ABAC Panel determinations:
In May 2009, Skinny Blonde advertisers responded to the ABAC upholding a complaint about the Skinny Blonde facebook fan page, stating that it would vet potential new ‘fans’ for age and suitability.
In July 2009, the ABAC upheld a complaint about the Skinny Blonde ‘Six Pack’ microsite for featuring models that looked to be under the age of 25. The Panel relied on statements from the advertiser that it would withdraw the site.
In October 2009, the ABAC upheld three more complaints in relation to the ‘Six Pack’ website and the ‘Staring Competition’ video. These two features had been removed from the Skinny Blonde website, but the advertiser then featured links to images of the ‘Six Pack’ models, references to the microsite, and links to the video on the main Skinny Blonde website. ABAC described this action as a ‘clear attempt by the Advertisers to circumvent the previous decision by the Panel’ and ‘ongoing failure to comply’.
In March 2010, the ABAC Panel upheld another complaint about the Skinny Blonde website relating to links on the website describing the feature of the label that involve the female model’s clothing being removed as the product was consumed, a description of that feature in the website text itself, and links to articles containing images of the model with her bikini on and off. The Panel noted that it was the fourth occasion on which the Panel had made a determination concerning Skinny Blonde advertising, and that on each occasion the advertiser had stated its commitment to good advertising practice and willingness to comply with the Panel’s decision. A complaint about the label feature (the fading bikini revealing a bare breasted woman) was dismissed on procedural grounds.
In summary, the ABAC Panel found a series of Skinny Blonde advertisements breached ABAC in a number of ways, including encouraging an irresponsible approach to alcohol consumption, suggesting the presence of the product contributed to the achievement of sexual success, encouraging offensive behaviour, and for using models that did not appear to be over the age of 25. The producers of Skinny Blonde are not signatories to the ABAC Scheme. Various features of the website that the advertiser had assured the Panel were removed, including the Six Pack microsite, remained live until at least April 2012. The links to articles featuring descriptions and images of the bare breasted woman on the label featured on the website at the time of writing (June 2012).