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‘Taste the bush’ wine ad banned

A provocative advertisement for Australian wine which uses the catchline “You can almost taste the bush” has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

A still from the Premier Estates advertisement, which has been banned by the ASA (Photo: YouTube)
A still from the Premier Estates advertisement, which has been banned by the ASA (Photo: YouTube)

The online advertisement from UK-based Premier Estates Wine received complaints from organisations including Wine Australia, which said that it was sexist and degrading towards women, and Alcohol Concern, which suggested it was in breach of the ASA code of practice because it linked alcohol with sexual activity.

Both of these complaints were upheld.

The advertisement, which featured on Premier Estate Wine’s website and was posted on YouTube, as well as appearing on websites including Fox News and Huffington Post, showed a woman standing behind a “strategically placed” glass of red wine positioned at the level of her crotch. In the advertisement the woman tastes the wine, then describes it before using the offending catchline.

“Take this exquisite Aussie Shiraz, a mere £5.99 a bottle,” the woman says. On taking a sip, she adds: “Mmm, luscious, earthy, bursting with fruit and spice.”

She then places the glass down on a table in front of her crotch and says: “Australia practically jumps out of the glass. In fact, some say you can almost taste the bush.”

The woman then looks awkwardly askance before picking up the glass and walking away.

In August the drinks business reported on the launch of the controversial advertising campaign, which also featured a Twitter promotion carrying the hashtag #TasteTheBush.

The Twitter promotion featured a cropped image of the woman’s torso and lower body with the glass of red wine “directly in front of her crotch”, the ASA said, with text over the top of the image reading ‘I want to #TasteTheBush’. Twitter users were encouraged to tweet the hashtagged phrase for the chance to wine a case of the Australian Shiraz featured in the advertisement.

Budge Brands Ltd, of which Premier Estate Wine is a trading name, argued that the campaign was targeted at a mature 35 to 45-year-old wine-drinking audience and was intended to be “playful and tongue-in-cheek”.

While Budge Brands acknowledged the joke might not be to everyone’s taste, it said the woman was in charge and “owned the joke”. It added that it had been careful to ensure the wording worked both as innuendo and as a straight piece of monologue.

Sexual reference
The ASA ruling countered: “The ASA considered that most viewers would understand the claim ‘…some say you can almost taste the bush’ to be a reference to oral sex, particularly given that it was accompanied with the image of the wine glass positioned directly in front of the woman’s crotch.”

The ruling went on: “While the woman was immediately aware of the double-entendre and seemingly only mildly embarrassed as a result, we considered that it served to undermine her as, until that point, she had been portrayed as confident and in control while discussing the merits of the wine… For that reason, we considered that the ad presented the woman in a degrading manner, and concluded that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”

Regarding the Twitter ad, the ASA said the cropped image of the woman’s crotch “served to reduce the woman to merely a sexual object” and that the reference to oral sex in the hashtag would be clearly understood, which was in breach of the advertising code.

Introducing the campaign in August, Premier Estates Wine owner and managing director Budge Dhariwal said it showed “how far we have come” since the company was founded in 2005.

“The Premier Estates Wine B2B business has grown from strength to strength over the past few years and it is now time to introduce the brand to consumers,” Dhariwal said.

“We hope our customers will love the #TasteTheBush campaign as much as we do – it captures the brand’s unique British humour and banter.”

The ASA received a total of eight complaints against the advertisement, including from organisations Wine Australia and Alcohol Concern.

Dhariwal responded: “The campaign highlights the playful, tongue-in-cheek tone that’s born from classic British humour.

“The vast majority of the adult, wine-drinking target audience has responded in the spirit in which it was intended. Positive feedback has far outweighed the negative comments and many people have positively engaged with the brand.”

While Wine Australia said it was “pleased with the outcome”, Alcohol Concern said the damage had already been done and called for independent regulation to discourage companies from breaching the rules.

“Despite breaking advertising codes, these adverts have already been seen and shared widely via social media and online,” said Tom Smith, Alcohol Concern director of campaigns.

“These adverts have been published, knowing the negative publicity the brand will gain – and it can be done because there aren’t any real repercussions in place for breaking the rules.

“This ruling by the ASA further highlights how we need regulation independent regulation, with consequences such as fines that genuinely deter companies from breaking the rules in the first place.”

The ASA has ordered that the Taste the Bush advertisement must not be shown again in its current form.

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