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Ricky Gervais uses parodies to promote vodka

When it comes to advertising, comedian and actor Ricky Gervais has given the distillery he co-owns some serious star power.


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Gervais was announced as a new partner and investor of North Yorkshire’s Ellers Farm Distillery late last year, with his focus to initially be on the company’s Dutch Barn Orchard Vodka brand.

As part of that, The Office co-creator is using his considerable social media presence (15 million followers on X/Twitter, and 3.9m on Instagram) to promote the spirit.

On 28 February, he shared a new advert for Dutch Barn Orchard Vodka that, in true Gervais style, uses awkwardness to generate humour.

Titled Health warning, the ad opens with Gervais introducing himself and a “Dr. Patterson”, who he then clarifies is in fact an actor “like George Clooney in ER,” as Gervais then puts it.


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Asked by Gervais to list “some of the dangers” of alcohol, the doctor/actor replies with an extensive, and perhaps worrying list of problems that don’t do a great job of promoting the idea of drinking: “There’s loads, from high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, weakened immune system, digestive problems, depression, violence and accidents.”

The ad then concludes with Gervais then, perhaps inappropriately given the great list of problems alcohol abuse can cause that has just been read out, giving the vodka a plug.

It could be seen as both a parody of the convention of featuring actors playing doctors in advertising to lend products medical credentials (a staple of promoting toothpaste, for example), but also of the ‘drink responsibly’ health warnings that appear on adverts promoting alcohol. It is also very much in keeping with the darker humour for which Gervais is known – his Extras character Andy Millman wouldn’t be out of place in the scene.

This isn’t the only unconventional advert that Gervais has released on his social media to promote Dutch Barn Orchard Vodka. An earlier example has Gervais comment of the vodka, which has an RRP of £30: “If you can’t afford it, just get Smirnoff. You can get that for £15 in some places – it does the trick.”


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When he joined Ellers Farm Distillery, Gervais said: “On a serious note Dutch Barn really is a quality product. I love the fact that it’s done differently and I can’t wait to let everyone know about it.”

However, the promotional campaign has not been particularly serious at all, with Gervais’ ads complemented by some of the unflattering ‘bath pics’ he is known to post on social media, with the addition of a bottle of Dutch Barn.

The spirits and beer categories in particular often utilise ironic, self-effacing humour on social media in a promotional effort. From the stars of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia pushing their Four Walls whiskey, to the Berlin brewery that parodied Jeremy Allen White’s viral Calvin Klein underwear advert to spread the word about its non-alcoholic beer.

Gervais’ efforts might readily be compared to those of Jeremy Clarkson for his Hawkstone beer brand, with the ex-Top Gear presenter claiming earlier this year that his low-alcohol lager is in fact “a wellness lager”.

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