Thou shalt not vilify thy red heads. That was the sentence handed down to Carlton and United Breweries’ latest ad campaign for Rusty Yak Gingery Ale which has officially been banned from Australian screens.
After fielding public uproar that the ad was “offensive”, “racist”, “bullying” and “discriminating” to those with red hair, the ad watchdog acted accordingly by deeming that it vilified
the offspring of Satan gingers.
In Rusty Yak Gingery Ale’s commercial audiences are asked to “stop the spread of the Ginger Gene” which has been “floating around in our DNA, surprising families for generations”. Whilst funny to many (us), others took complete offence to it and played the hell out of the P.C card.
“It’s very offensive for the advertisement to be discriminating against those with red hair, suggesting that they need to ‘stop the gene spreading’ as if it were some sort of disease. Children already get bullied at school for having red hair, and advertisements like this only further encourage that type of bullying,” wrote one complaint.
The ad’s creators at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne intended their message of stopping the “spread of the Ginger Gene” to fall in line with hidden bottles of Rusty Yak Ginger Ales in regular Yak six packs.
Carlton and United Breweries responded to the ban saying that it disagreed with the decision as red heads aren’t a race.
“The complaints address discrimination and vilification against people on account of their red hair, but this attribute does not fall within race.”
Furthermore, the creators explained that the ad associates Rusty Yak Ginger Ale and red heads in an affectionate, light-hearted and humours way.
“The advertisements do not promote discrimination or vilification as defined above in a literal or figurative way given the theme and overall impression of the advertisements is not negative towards red heads, but rather a humorous and comical announcement that we have discovered ‘the ginger gene’ in our beer,” added CUB.
Ad Standards reaffirmed that having red hair did indeed fall under the race card since “DNA can be considered to be related to ancestry and descent and therefore considered that in this context the reference to people with red hair falls within the definition of race”.
CUB have since pulled the ad out of respect for those who were offended.