ASA bans pub’s Nazi-themed ads for German night

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned two Facebook adverts posted by a UK pub ruling that its use of a Nazi soldier to promote a German-themed evening was “inappropriate and trivialised the events of the Second World War and actions of the German Nazi party”.

The advert in question

Two adverts were posted by the Buck Inn, a pub in Darlington in September 2017. The first featured an image of a poster titled “german night” with text stating “Set 3 Course Meal Including Popular German Dishes £19.95pp, “Graham Ze Chef”, Don’t Mention Ze War!” alongside a well-known black and white image of Adolf Hitler performing a Nazi salute with a cartoon head superimposed onto the body.

The pub later updated its profile picture to an image of a newspaper article about the “german night” poster, carrying the headline “Pub’s German night ‘Nazi’ poster criticised”.

Three people complained to the ASA that the ads were offensive.

In response, the Buck Inn said that the phrase “Dont mention ze war” was in referenced to a quote from Fawlty Towers and the use of this phrase in the ad, in conjunction with a cartoon image of their chef’s head on a German soldier, was intended to be “light hearted and humorous”.

It added that the use of a cartoon head on the body of a Nazi soldier was not intended to mock the Second World War in any way.

The Buck Inn also said that the ad was seen on Facebook by over 500,000 people, and the fact that only three complaints were received indicated most people had interpreted the ad in the way they had intended.

The ASA also criticised the Buck Inn for “liking” Holocaust jokes posted below the pictures, and for using the image of a newspaper article highlighting criticism of the adverts as its profile picture.

The ASA acknowledging that the phrase was a well-known quote from Fawlty Towers, but upheld the complaint, ruling that the use of an image of a Nazi soldier wearing a swastika and performing a Nazi salute to advertise the pub’s German cuisine night, while in a humorous tone, was “inappropriate and trivialised the events of the Second World War and actions of the German Nazi party”.

“Furthermore, the ad appeared to link German culture intrinsically with Nazi Germany and the war. We therefore considered that ad (a) was likely to cause serious or widespread offense,” it added.

Speaking to the BBC, landlord Craig Harker called the decision “political correctness gone mad”.

“The world’s gone absolutely bonkers if this is deemed offensive,” he said. “As long as business is good I’ll continue to market my businesses however I see fit and let the PC brigade continue to do their jobs.”

The ASA banned the ads from appearing in their current form, despite the on-off event taking place almost four months ago.

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