Miller’s ad features a young man doing a series of spectacular stunts on roller-skates to impress a girl, who then rewards him by giving him a beer. It’s a commercial that ticked all the wrong boxes. ‘Associate beer with an activity usually the preserve of children’ – check. ‘Associate beer with cool yet dangerous stunts’ – check. ‘Associate beer with attractiveness to women’ – check.
The ASA could probably have banned it for several reasons, but focused on its appeal to young people. ‘We considered that the action of roller-skating, particularly when combined with the effortless cool of the execution of a series of tricks, was likely to appeal strongly to under-18s,’ it said.
The ever-insightful watchdog added: ‘We considered that the somersault over a group of dogs, the jump through a tyre and the backwards descent of a staircase constituted daring behaviour.’ We can only hope that it put this theory to the test by attempting to execute these tricks after several bottles of Miller.
The advert was shown in Scotland before the ASA got hold of it. Miller then pulled the plug just before the watchdog issued its final verdict (so either it belatedly came to its senses, or the whole thing was a fiendishly clever guerilla marketing stunt).
The ASA undoubtedly does an important job. It has also upheld a complaint against BA, for suggesting its flights to Prague started at £29 – like most of us who see these low-cost flight adverts, the watchdog went onto BA’s website to find that the offer is mostly available for flights in several months’ time (probably if you travel in the middle of the night, in the cargo hold).
But today’s intervention may have been too little, too late. After years of powerful media conditioning and assiduous practice, it’s hard for blokes to rid themselves of the notion that drinking beer makes them cooler and more attractive to the opposite sex. Sorry.