Our state broadcaster, RTE has just banned the Budweiser commercial featuring UFC fighter and Irish hero Conor McGregor.
The banning has already led to newspaper articles, much discussion and a huge curiosity and will inevitably have everyone googling just to see what this “offensive” advert was all about. I suspect they will be left scratching their heads wondering what the fuss was all about.
In many ways this could be deemed as a huge success for the brand because it will now achieve a level of visibility and notoriety that it previously didn’t have, without having to pay the advertising costs.
While it sends out a big message from RTE you would like to think that this is a good, sensible one because we do want there to be watchdogs to protect us from danger. It is important that ‘banning’ makes sense, that it is rational and that it is fair.
The advertising guidelines around alcohol are very strict in Ireland and all of these were followed carefully.
In the advert there isn’t a picture of a bottle of beer, there isn’t a pub in sight. There is just Conor tastefully captured in a scene walking around his home town, Crumlin in Dublin, which then transforms into a street in LA.
This 27 year old apprentice plumber has achieved huge success by dedication to his sport and the advert demonstrates this with the help of these scenes and the voice over by Conor:
Never give up on your dream
Be your own inspiration, a beacon of self belief
Keep proving others wrong
If your dream doesn’t scare you, then its not big enough
So dream, as big as you dare
Only at the very end of the advert do we see the Budweiser logo and the usual drink responsibly message at the bottom of the screen.
For me the message from the advert is a very inspirational one, delivering a powerful positive message. Yes, it does come from a beer brand, which I think is more than ok. It shows you how the guidelines are keeping alcohol brands in a very responsible place and forcing a communication about positive values.
The message coming from RTE in banning this advert?
According to the newspapers they issued a statement to the Sunday Business Post that the advert breached advertising guidelines because Conor McGregor is considered a “hero to the young“, which will in turn encourage them to drink alcohol.
I don’t get it..
In my view banning the advert will achieve the wrong thing (besides totally confusing an industry that is trying to be very responsible) – viewers will definitely seek out the inspirational advert and could instead conclude that we are living in a censorship state that in some way has an issue with people from working class backgrounds having and achieving their dreams.
Banning the advert is also bad for the RTE brand as in my view it shows them as being ultra conservative and this is not good when they are up against such stiff competition. Leaving the censorship to the advertising authorities might be a much better policy.
It’s a great thing that we are seeing extra vigilance about alcohol advertising but we need to make sure that the brands that are working really hard to get it right aren’t punished.