Considering some of the Tone Deaf crew have worked in them before, advertising agency creative departments are like a lot of the music industry – hotbeds of long hours, hard work, black humour and ‘interesting’ personalities. Indeed a lot of the people you find working in them are music, film and art fans with a perverse sense of humour. Hence, it’s all the more amusing for us to learn that something that probably seemed quite funny to a team of art directors and copywriters has landed brewing giant Heineken in a lot of hot water. The ad campaign the agency came up with was for beer brand Kronenbourg 1664, which featured banner advertisements on Spotify.
The ads suggested music fans check out Kronenbourg 1664’s sponsored “slowed down” playlist as part of a campaign entitled “Slow the Pace”. The aim was to connect punters with the idea of “relaxed consumption” of beer with a mix tape of music that had been “uncharacteristically slowed down” from the original version. In this instance, no doubt the ad agency staff thought they were being very clever by including Nouvelle Vague’s cover of the Dead Kennedys’ classic ‘Too Drunk To Fuck’.
Admittedly it was quite a funny inclusion, but a UK booze industry marketing watchdog didn’t see the funny side of it after receiving a complaint and quickly moved to have the campaign removed. The Portman Group said that while it didn’t believe the campaign “set out to promote irresponsible drinking”, it still found the “track name and lyrics referenced drinking to excess, thereby associating the brand with immoderate consumption”.
This was in breach of an ad industry code which prohibits “encouraging irresponsible or immoderate drinking.” “This demonstrates just how careful companies have to be when marketing alcohol,” said David Poley, Portman Group CEO. “We were pleased that the company took immediate action to remove the track from the playlist. As soon as the complaint was brought to its attention Heineken has also introduced more rigorous approval procedures as a result.”
In the meantime, check out the offensive cover here: