Rowing great Eric Murray has been removed from parts of a beer campaign after a watchdog ruled he was "a hero of the young".

The Olympics gold medalist was part of a campaign called Beer the Beautiful Truth that featured a number of New Zealand celebrities talking about the nutritional content in beer.

Alcohol Healthwatch laid the complaint with Advertising Standards Authority expressing concern that Murray was a hero to young people and was effectively being used to encourage minors to drink alcohol.

In a just-released decision the authority partially upheld the compliant.


Alcohol Healthwatch had raised concerns that by showing Murray consuming alcohol to celebrate the birth of his child, it implied the success of a social occasion was dependent on alcohol.

The Advertising Standards Authority Complaints Board agreed that Murray was a hero of the young and the Brewers Association has subsequently taken steps to address the concerns.

"We accept the Authority's ruling on this aspect of the complaint," the association said in a statement.

"We have already taken steps to ensure that any campaign material featuring Eric has been removed from unrestricted areas."

Alcohol Healthwatch executive director Dr Nicki Jackson said Murray featured prominently in the DB and Lion campaign while at the same time proactively engaging directly with young people through his work in New Zealand schools.

"Research shows that the more adolescents are exposed to alcohol advertising, the more likely they are to drink heavily.

"This flows on to a range of social and health problems, including a higher chance of dropping out of school and a higher risk of depression and suicide," Jackson said.

Jackson said this was just one example of many illustrating the failure of an alcohol industry self-regulation approach to advertising complaints.

"New Zealanders should not feel assured that the alcohol industry is protecting our young people from the harm of alcohol advertising," she said.

Brewers Association shut down the complainants that said references to "nutrition" and being "99 per cent sugar-free" were misleading.

"Complainants had claimed that the campaign created the impression that beer was healthy and nutritious, an assertion which was not upheld by the Authority," the association said.

The Complaints Board said the video advertisement of Murray talking about having "the best beer of his life" after attending the birth of his child did not imply alcohol was a key part of the success of the occasion

The Complaints Board ruled, due to the use of Murray, a hero of the young,
in non-restricted advertising mediums for the promotion of alcohol products, the complaints were upheld, in part.