Premier Estates Wine’s attempt lampoon wine buffs by using a sultry brunette pictured with a glass of vino placed over her nether regions – under the strapline and Twitter hashtag #TasteTheBush – has been bashed by the ad watchdog for causing serious and widespread offence and linking alcohol with sex.
At the time of the online campaign launch, the company claimed the woman was simply offering what it described as a “sensuous” description of her glass of Shiraz. She ended the tasting note with the words: “You can almost taste the bush,” before the camera revealed her strategically placed wine glass.
Surrey Garland, the executive creative director of Saatchi Masius – the agency which devised the ad – said at the time: “This campaign aims to debunk the pompous blandness of the category and as a first for the brand, we wanted to make people laugh – and try the wine.”
But the Advertising Standards Authority received eight complaints about the ad from consumers and organisations, including the Wine Australia and Alcohol Concern, which were not at all amused. They claimed it was demeaning to women, likely to cause widespread offence and linked alcohol to sexual activity.
However, Budge Brands, which owns Premier Estates Wine, could not see what all the fuss was about. It maintained the campaign was simply a tongue-in-cheek play on words.
While it acknowledged that the joke might not be to everyone’s taste, it said the woman was in charge and “owned the joke”, and it was careful to ensure the wording worked on both levels – as innuendo and as a straight piece of monologue.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ASA was not won over by this argument, saying 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.
It considered that the cropped image which concealed the woman’s face accompanied by text that was also referring to her genitalia and oral sex, served to reduce the woman to merely a sexual object.
In light of that, it considered that the ad presented the woman in a degrading manner and was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. It also noted that the ads clearly promoted an alcoholic product and that an image of a glass of red wine was featured in each ad and concluded that they linked alcohol with sexual activity.
Banning the ad for breaching the code on three counts, it also warned Premier Estates Wine to ensure its ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and to ensure they did not link alcohol with sexual activity in future.
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