Friday, 5 October 2007

Shepherd Neame - the unacceptable face of real ale advertising

George Orwell once said, “Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket." This is how I feel about the way that Shepherd Neame advertises. Shepherd Neame brew pretty good beer, but I really do find their advertising very distasteful. , distasteful to the point where I would recommend that you don't drink their beer.

First up are the adverts for Spitfire Ale which mainly concentrate on themes based on racist stereotypes from World War 2. I like to think that Britain is now one of the more successful multi-racial societies in this world. Unfortunately this sort of thing does nothing to encourage harmony only reinforcing the beliefs of xenophobes.


Then there are the adverts for Bishops Finger. They feature, what can best be described as, buxom wenches, making suggestive offers regarding the afore mentioned clerical appendage. Now I'm not a prude, and I'm quite partial to the double entendre, but I do think this sexist and degrading type of approach is most uncalled for. Plus, don't they know that ale is a uni-sex product?


I can hear 'red-blooded’ beer drinkers shouting abuse at the screen right now. Comments like, “political correctness gone mad” etc etc. But I don't care. These sort of things need to be challenged. They affect people's perceptions, sometimes overtly, and sometimes in a subliminal way. They also help to reinforce people's prejudices about beer drinkers as being oaf-ish, uncouth working-class fat blokes. Not that I'd want to suggest there is anything wrong with/some of my best friends are oaf-ish, uncouth, working-class fat blokes. Phew! But if we are to win people over to the joys of beer, we need to move away from the lad-ish association, that in my opinion, this sort of advertising portrays.

I've have complained to the advertising standards authority about a particular Spitfire advert. I'll let you know if and when I hear any more about that. On their website Shepherd Neame claim to have 'values and standards', and whilst you can't say they don't, I think you can quite legitimately question just how low they possibly are!

Come on Shepherd Neame clean up your act.

1 comment:

Paul Bailey said...

You are not alone in your dislike of Shepherd Neame's advertising, Paul. I have long thought that the theme for their Spitfire adverts, im particular, with its "boy's own" comic-book stereo-typing of former adversaries from a conflict that ended over 60 years ago, to be both childish and insulting. Visitors from Germany must sigh with disappointment, at best, and feel insulted at worst, when they see these ads on bill-boards and also, I believe, on the London Underground.

I have only seen the Bishop's Finger ad a couple of times, but again it is very school-boyish in nature. Unfortunately, the type of people who work in advertising agencies thrive on this sort of thing.

Anyone acquainted with me will know I am no fan of so-called "political correctness", but adverts such as these, which ridicule or insult, do a great dis-service to the cause of real ale and furthermore tell the reader nothing at all about the product they're supposed to be advertising!