Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

'Swap a ginger' beer ad ruled offensive

The ginger beer campaign told parents of ginger-haired children to trade them in.  Photo / Supplied
The ginger beer campaign told parents of ginger-haired children to trade them in. Photo / Supplied

An advertisement that invited parents to trade in their unwanted red-headed children for ginger beer has been ruled discriminatory and offensive.

The posters for Hakanoa ginger beer showed a mother abandoning her red-headed child at a dairy in exchange for a six-pack of ginger beer, with the headline: "Swap your ginger for six."

The ad said "no one really wants a ginger" and encouraged people to trade them for "something you really want, a delicious six pack of Hakanoa Ginger Beer".

The campaign ran for a week from late July before it was pulled following a flurry of complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has now ruled the ad was likely to cause serious and widespread offence.

It said the ad went beyond the acceptable use of stereotypes and satire, and encouraged the discrimination and ridicule of red-headed people.

The ASA's ruling follows a number of complaints, including that it was "likely to cause ridicule for people with red hair by stating they are not wanted".

The complaints noted the ad singled out red-headed children in particular.

Advertising agency M&C Saatchi responded that the ad had to "dial up the ridiculous message" to ensure the hyperbole was not construed as a serious or realistic situation.

"It was always supposed to be a joke."

The agency noted Hakanoa had apologised to the people it offended and had pulled the campaign.

It said Hakanoa was a small brand with a small budget, and the ad was meant to generate "significant PR" - which it did.

But that did not impress the ASA, which noted the ad had not been prepared "with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society".

- NZ Herald

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