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Beckham whisky ad cleared by watchdog

A TV advert for David Beckham’s Haig Club whisky has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), despite complaints that it might appeal to children.

David Beckham in Diageo’s Haig Club Scotch whisky ad

The Diageo-owned Haig Club whisky, a single grain Scotch whisky, was launched in partnership with footballing icon David Beckham and Simon Fuller in April last year.

Film director Guy Ritchie was brought on board to produce an advertisement for the brand. The adverts depicted a group of smartly dressed friends gathering on a remote Scottish highland to enjoy a dram of the Scotch whisky. David Beckham arrives on a motorbike carrying a bottle of Haig Club which he then pours for the group who then raise a toast.

However the advert prompted two complaints to the ASA which challenged the appropriateness of the advertisement and David Beckham’s involvement.

Alcohol Concern claimed his presence would hold appeal to those under 18 years of age with the charity branding it “irresponsible” for the sports star to promote an alcoholic beverage. It also claimed the advertisement implied drinking was a key component of social success or acceptance, and that “refusal was a sign of weakness”.

Defending the advert, Diageo argued that since his retirement as a footballer, Beckham’s profile had been driven by “global business interests, media presence and charity work” and predominantly focused on high-end luxury brands aimed at a “wholly adult demographic and generally targeted at affluent males over 25”.

With regard to the content of the ad itself, Diageo said the ad was designed to appeal to a “stylish, sophisticated and affluent mature” audience conveyed by casting, setting, music and the overall tone of the ad. It noted the mood of the reunion was mature with the characters arriving in vintage vehicles with the intention of appealing to an older audience.

Dismissing the complaint, the ASA said: “As a recently-retired footballer, David Beckham would be likely to hold general appeal for some children. Nonetheless, we noted that he had not played for a UK club in the last decade and was therefore unlikely to have particular resonance for children on the basis of his sporting career alone, or have strong appeal on that basis.”

In regard to concerns that the ad irresponsibly implied that alcohol was key to social success, the ASA said: “The ASA noted that the whisky was shown as part of a social occasion and was one aspect of the theme of the ad. However, we considered that the preamble to the photograph scene demonstrated a well-established friendship and sense of ease between the characters that was already present before the drink was poured.”

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