Colenso BBDO is an agency that prides itself on creating work that's interesting enough to create conversations. It probably doesn't pride itself on having work pulled for breaking the rules, but that's happened twice in the past few weeks, first with the DB Export TVC that was removed from television, cinema and online after a complaint was upheld by the ASA and then with the massive viral video Rear View Girls for Levi's that, after more than seven million views, was pulled from YouTube for violating its terms and conditions.
The official Rear View Girls video has been removed (seemingly because it failed to get permission to film those featured in the clip), but it's still available on YouTube now and if it hadn't been pulled, it's fair to say the unbranded viral had already well and truly achieved its intended goal of spreading the word about Levi's new range (we'll look past the fact that a few fun-haters felt aggrieved about being tricked by a dastardly advertising stunt).
The DB Export debacle was a completely different kettle of fish, however, given it was a well-planned, completely above-board campaign that used traditional media.
There was certainly plenty of pomp and ceremony when the 'historical' DB Export campaign was launched, and there were high hopes from DB it would resurrect a brand that was on the decline (and high hopes from Colenso it might bring home a few awards).
Youtube VideoThe commercial portrays Morton Coutts as a man who rose up against finance minister and "puritanical wowser" Arnold Nordmeyer’s infamous 1958 Black Budget and its “puritanical regime that taxed the world’s best beers so heavily, no ordinary bloke could afford to drink ‘em”.
Nine of the ten complaints reviewed by the ASA were either found with no grounds to proceed or were not been upheld, ranging from misleading newspaper and in-store ads using the term “man” too exclusively, to the campaign’s wording being called “deceptive” and “absurd”.
However, after a lengthy letter from (among others) Jim Anderton was reviewed, the ASA upheld the complaint in regards to misuse of a two second clip from a riot during the 1950s. Said footage was used in the commercial to imply that the riots were caused by beer purchasers angry that prices were too high and that Morton Coutts was coming to the rescue. But the footage was actually from the 1951 waterfront dispute and lockout.
After deliberation the board found that the implication was “…that these are working men rioting over the price of a jug of beer following the 1958 Budget. This is demonstrably false.”
“There were no riots or demonstrations of any sort arising from the 1958 Budget and to say or imply that there were is highly misleading and factually incorrect.”
“Rather than appeal we chose to take out the footage of the waterfront strike," says DB Export Beer marketing manager, Dave Shoemack. "We’ve also gone a step further than required and amended the voice-over to make it clear that this is our interpretation of history based on the facts we have researched.”
So, after some minor editing, the advertisement is returning to television screens this weekend and, in what could be seen as evidence of the all publicity is good publicity phenomenon, it will now air until late April, a few weeks longer than was intended with the original.
“We’ve had a great response from supporters of DB Export and the advertisement itself who were sad to see it come off air early. I’m sure they’ll enjoy seeing it back on air for a few more weeks," he says.
While the televisual ad was obviously on the dodgy side in terms of historical accuracy, complaints about the print ads were not upheld. And DB was also at pains to point out the advertisement did not breach the Code for Advertising Liquor.